To reduce its carbon footprint and mitigate climate change, the National Hockey League (NHL) has turned to data and analytics to gauge the sustainability performance of the arenas where its teams play. In October, the league, with partner SAP, launched NHL Venue Metrics, a sustainability platform that teams and their venue partners can use for data collection, validation, and reporting and insights.

The new platform furthers the sustainability journey the NHL started in 2010 when it inaugurated its NHL Green initiative to promote sustainable business practices across the league. It followed that in 2014 with the first sustainability report issued by a North American professional sports league and, in 2015, a commitment to counterbalance the league’s entire carbon footprint for three consecutive seasons.

“It’s meaningful for us because the roots of our game are people playing on frozen ponds,” says Omar Mitchell, vice president of sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives at the NHL. “We need fresh water; we need cold weather. And when it comes to arenas, when you think about it, we play in a giant refrigerator. So, we use a lot of energy, a lot of resources, to play on a frozen water sheet.”

When the NHL began its sustainability journey, Mitchell’s role did not yet exist. He joined the league in 2012 as its first sustainability director with a mandate to find ways to embed sustainable business practices across the league and its member clubs.

“The most important thing about any sustainability platform is you cannot impact what you cannot measure,” Mitchell says. “That’s consistent across whatever your functional role, whatever your industry focuses on. The only way you can really advance change is by measuring, and then from measurement, impact. Sustainability is all about continuous business improvement. Sustainability is all about innovation and business optimization. The only way for you to speak in the language of business is to have the data that help you derive those insights.”

Benchmarking best practices

Driving sustainability practices in the NHL has unique challenges given the league’s structure. The NHL consists of 32 franchises across North America (seven teams in Canada and 25 in the US), each of which is owned and operated by separate entities, most of which also own and operate a venue. Washington, DC-based Monumental Sports & Entertainment, for example, owns the NHL’s Washington Capitals, NBA’s Washington Wizards, WNBA’s Washington Mystics, and the Capital One Arena in DC. The NHL can influence and promote practices among its franchisees but cannot mandate them.

Mitchell notes that it often helps to showcase the business benefits of various initiatives in addition to their environmental benefits. For example, more than two-thirds of NHL arenas have converted to LED game lights, leading to substantial energy savings in those facilities.

“These are the lights that illuminate the ice surface,” Mitchell says. “The old technology was 1,000-watt metal halide lights.”

Mitchell notes the new LED lighting technology actually makes the ice sheet look brighter, making the surface pop.

“We’re not telling the venues, ‘You must change your lights,’” Mitchell says. “We’re showing them all of the examples and best cases for why this innovation is so important and successful, as well as the benefits from an environmental standpoint. So, the majority of all of our buildings now have LED lights.”

Mitchell says the league is thinking of NHL Venue Metrics in the same way.

“We are using our technology and our platform to write the rules of how they should be measuring their venue operations and reporting against those venue operations and providing insights into benchmarks of how they should be operating their venue,” he says.

From there, the league can gather and collate those results to spot trends, gain insight into where venues are doing better or worse, and share best practices.

“Benchmarking, analyzing, and then showcasing those best practices, that’s the power of this tool,” Mitchell adds.

IT-driven sustainability

The league released sustainability reports in 2014 and 2018. In the process, it determined that venue operations comprise about 70% of its overall carbon footprint. That finding led it to ask SAP for help creating a technology solution that would allow it to track the carbon output of venues and ultimately start moving the needle in the right direction.

NHL Venue Metrics is an end-to-end, cloud-based platform to help venues measure and analyze the carbon footprint they generate across areas such as energy, water, waste, and recycling. It consists of three main components:

Data collection: An interface platform sits between the clubs and their venue partners, allowing them to share relevant resource consumption and environmental data with the league.Data calculation and validation: A processing and verification engine enables the league to track data consistency and identify reporting errors and calculation formulas to create the league’s carbon inventory.Data reporting and insights: A visualization dashboard shows environmental, consumption, and financial metrics.

The operational data is processed using SAP HANA Cloud and visualized with SAP Analytics Cloud.

SAP is the technical lead on NHL Venue Metrics. Mitchell’s team also works closely with the NHL’s club business and analytics group for data capture and the processing of ticketing and premium concessions, for example. Mitchell’s team also works closely with the IT group to ensure the platform and its data are secure.

The league launched the NHL Venue Metrics platform in October, so it’s still in the early stages. At this point, Mitchell says the team has learned a lot about data collection.

“This is an iterative process where we’re getting constant feedback from the venues about things like units of measure and what’s important for verification of the data that’s reported,” Mitchell says.

As more data comes in, the league will be looking to identify resource consumption reduction opportunities and operational enhancements such as increasing diversion of waste from landfill to recycling. Mitchell’s hope is to glean insights from venues that are doing well, build those insights into best practices, and share them with other clubs to be adopted at their venues.

“That’s what success will look like,” he says. “That’s where we will move the needle on really embedding environmental stability across the league.”

Analytics, Green IT, SAP

No matter how reliable their sources, IT analysts’ technology adoption forecasts are fundamentally interpretive – opinions based on received data. This is particularly true when predicting deployment trends in tomorrow’s cloud market.

Predictive viewpoints from cloud service providers, meanwhile, are informed by direct interactions with client IT teams experienced in projecting their organizations’ technology needs.

“Predicting cloud requirements is now a core competency for IT strategists,” says Oscar Garcia, Global SVP of Strategy and Technology at NTT. Garcia’s role makes him well placed to cast perspective on cloud trends for 2023 – notably, upshifts in the areas of cloud verticalization, hyperscale edge computing, SaaS management and cloud sustainability.

First of these, the rise of cloud platforms pre-engineered for an industry or sector, reflects the continued adoption of multicloud in high-value organizations.

“When organizations want ‘horizontal’ clouds tailored for a business industry, reengineering is needed to prep the cloud for that industry’s requirements, such as foundational services and compliances,” Garcia explains. “This results in duplicated effort.”

Increasingly, organizations want clouds preconfigured for necessary compliances, says Garcia: “Clouds that come with sector-specific features don’t have to be set up from scratch each time, thus streamlining cloud onboarding. They save time and money, and have inbuilt continuity with a given industry’s standards.”

Hyperscale edge computing gains traction

Cloud trends are rarely attributable to one driving force. Take demand for managed hyperscale edge computing services, which Garcia tips for estimable growth.

“Across sectors, enterprises increasingly look to distribute their workloads,” Garcia reports. “This is resulting in a need for distributed compute and storage that bring instantaneous response times at the edge.”

Associated benefits include the reduction of data processed in centralized clouds. This avoids network latency and other operational overheads. It also improves data security by limiting its exposure across networks.

Edge as a Service options make it possible to implement networks, operations and edge computing that deliver real-time automation and processing,” adds Garcia. “Unified operating models simplify operations and allow IT chiefs to focus on business imperatives.”

SaaS management services demand

The number of businesses that have outsourced the management of their applications is on an upward trend that will steepen through 2023.

“The need for SaaS management is the result of enterprises moving workloads to SaaS applications and the emergence of new complexities associated with this delivery model,” Garcia says. “SaaS solutions are precisely charged for. When cost leakage due to ineffectively managed SaaS solutions is revealed, it can come as a shock.”

Another reason why more organizations are outsourcing their top-level application monitoring and management is to free-up their IT expertise to focus on tech-enabled business initiatives, Garcia adds.

Measurable cloud sustainability

A desire for improved cloud sustainability will form another 2023 trend.

“While moving to cloud might not automatically make an organization’s IT greener, cloud can create conditions that make transformation possible,” says Garcia. “This means transforming IT to be more environmentally high-performing, but also transforming business through IT, using IT to drive positive change in the organization.”

NTT works toward delivering a “sustainability budget” that quantifies sustainability in the form of values rather than direct costs.

“When we propose operational right-sizing for altering CPU usage scale-out, or projected requirements for storage, or other compute parameters, we scale the budgetary expenditure of a potential change to a sustainability impact,” Garcia explains.

IT decision-makers may not always recognize sustainability metrics presented as quantitative methodology benchmarks, but they will respond to financial indicators, adds Garcia: “They can say, ‘well, this isn’t the least costly option, but it delivers the best sustainability outcome’. They can then apply a ROI value. So, if it’s 10 percent more expensive, say, that 10 percent will be an investment in improving their organization’s sustainability posture.”

How Multicloud as a Service can help

Even the best-run cloud environments can prove complex, and multiple clouds bring multiple complexities. A Business Impact Brief from 451 Research found this complexity is driving organizations to service providers to implement effective multicloud management.

No service provider is better qualified to meet this requirement than NTT. Their multicloud solutions address those complexities from infrastructure to edge. It’s still cloud as you know it, but simplified, more connected, and delivered as a managed service.

Discover how Multicloud as a Service from NTT can enable you to get more from your strategic cloud investments.

Multi Cloud

Sustainability is a major priority in business boardrooms already, and pressures from regulators, shareholders, board members and employees are likely to further drive this trend. 

Businesses need to do more than just track carbon output. They must reduce waste and increase efficiency. Going green makes good business sense.

While organizations know they need to mitigate environmental risks more effectively across the supply chain, often they struggle to translate that ambition into results. Due to the complexity and scale of the challenge, not all businesses have the resources to move toward net-zero at the necessary pace, and many are lagging.  

At the same time, companies are increasingly being held accountable for their environmental impact, with many countries legislating on emissions reductions. 

There is a clear company risk in not being sustainable, both to the planet and to the business. 

Today’s complex challenges require ambitious solutions that can scale and evolve over time.

NTT recognizes this and has launched the industry’s first full-stack Sustainability as a Service offering. This is designed to help manufacturing, transportation and other industries accelerate sustainability initiatives and make data-driven decisions to reduce their carbon footprint and become more efficient through the intelligent use of IoT connectivity. Rather than making huge investments in infrastructure to collect and process data, companies now have the option to get this as a secure, scalable, fully managed service that requires no large capital outlay.

The full-stack offering, which includes devices, network connectivity such as private 5G, edge computing, an analytics and insight platform, and systems integration, takes a human-centric approach to ensure that the right decision-makers receive relevant and timely information.  The technology stack is complemented by professional services from strategy through to execution to ensure that the data is actionable and that there is a clear ROI.

For example:

NTT is leveraging computer vision to reduce waste in a logistics warehouse. This solution recognizes items that are being picked and packed and provides verification that the quantity and products are correct. NTT is not only providing the technology but is also redesigning the pick-and-pack process and the pick stations to ensure the adoption and effectiveness of the technology.NTT provides a vast ecosystem of sensors that can be used to automate the collection of data on temperature/humidity, occupancy, soil moisture, air quality, water quality, etc. This data can then be combined to provide insights and information to lower energy usage and reduce impact on the environment – for example, by giving notifications of water leaks, chemical spills or exterior doors that are left open. Smart spaces can reduce energy use when unoccupied, while predictive/preventive maintenance can reduce wasteful downtime.As an ICT company with large assets such as undersea cables and data centers, NTT has made aggressive sustainability targets to become net-zero by 2030 and through their supply chain by 2040. NTT is sharing their experience with clients through Sustainability as a Service.

Although evolving, the process to calculate an enterprise’s carbon footprint is still highly manual. Data lives in silos across the IT and OT environment.

Collecting data across the supply chain for scope 2 and 3 emissions creates more complexity.

Organizations can find themselves questioning the accuracy and reliability of their data.

NTT works with clients to understand their data blind spots and leverages the right solution building blocks to collect the data and aggregate it with other complementary data, such as weather and location, to provide actionable insights.

“One of the biggest challenges of IoT is proving ROI,” says Devin Yaung, SVP, Group Enterprise IoT Products and Services at NTT. “You can solve any problem given enough budget. The challenge is to solve the problem in the most efficient way possible. We leverage the right building blocks for the use case and environment and offer these as a service so that clients can start small and grow their sustainability program.”  

He adds: “What is more important is that the data needs to be trusted and actionable rather than just noise. That’s why we also take a user-centric approach to understand who needs to receive the data, how much data they need and at what frequency.”

This becomes more important as the workforce evolves from digital immigrants to digital natives who are accustomed to receiving near real-time data and updates on every aspect of their lives. Sustainability as a Service is not just technology but also considers people, process and the regulatory environment.

Sustainability is a journey that all companies will have to embark upon. NTT’s Sustainability as a Service allows clients to travel this journey at their own pace.

Not only do these solutions help businesses meet sustainability goals, but they also help them benefit from energy cost savings, advanced operational excellence, enhanced risk management, and better work enablement across the organization.

Find out more about NTT’s commitment to sustainability.

Edge Computing

The cloud offers limitless scalability and flexibility, powering digital transformation across every industry. But when not managed strategically in the long run, cloud spending can quickly escalate and impact margins, cost of goods sold (COGS), and cost of revenue (COR).

To optimize cloud investments, C-level executives are increasingly adopting cloud financial operations (FinOps). This framework positions organizations to manage their cloud investments more effectively, driving increased accountability to maximize business value. In this article, I’ll explore common cloud optimization and FinOps challenges and strategies for overcoming them.

1. Cloud usage & costs

Most enterprise companies have shared infrastructure, and managing cost allocation across marketing, HR, accounting, and other departments can be tricky. How they handle this depends upon the business-unit driver and the organization’s culture, typically defined at the C-level.

The business unit must tie back to the key performance indicators (KPIs) associated with the domain and the objectives and key results (OKRs). Managing and aligning cost allocation to the business unit requires real-time visibility and reporting around cloud costs and usage, with cost allocation constructs aligned to departmental needs. Organizations must examine shared resources, storage costs, network costs, platform services, monitoring, logging, and licensing. Then they must choose a financial model, whether an even split, fixed, or proportional model.

From a strategic perspective, some organizations set up executive sponsorship focusing on the FinOps maturity model and decision framework. Others start with a FinOps maturity assessment, establishing an actionable roadmap that defines the FinOps domain and organization roles and objectives, all aligned to business spending, efficiency, transparency, and compliance.

2. Performance tracking and benchmarking

When it comes to performance tracking and benchmarking, organizations frequently face challenges around resource utilization and efficiency. Utilization and efficiency provide vital insights for understanding the business value of expenses incurred. However, it can be challenging to measure the business value associated with each type of cloud resource based on performance, availability, and other factors.

Overcoming these challenges goes back to KPIs and OKRs. Organizations must define and track KPIs that meet efficiency and utilization objectives and deliver value-creation. For example, if the goal is to reduce hot storage, a KPI must be defined to meet the efficiency objective and deliver value creation—and it must be measured. This requires adopting the right FinOps tools, processes, and people.

3. Real-time decision making

A framework and accountability structure form the foundation for real-time decisions around usage, costs, and performance to meet organizational goals. However, establishing a FinOps decision framework and accountability structure can pose a challenge, particularly for those organizations with low FinOps maturity.

The organization must first perform a maturity assessment to understand the role of FinOps within the context of the overall organization. Once in place, the organization can develop and assign a repeatable process that enables real-time decision-making to a center of excellence, steering committee, or governance structure, depending upon the organization.

4. Cloud rate optimization

In this domain, organizations define and adjust pricing model goals based on historical data and make purchase decisions based on goals and discounts being offered—all to optimize cloud spending. Cloud service providers provide slightly different offerings with unique embedded discounts – some providers have computer unit discounts, and some have utilization-based pricing.

As a result, organizations often face challenges around data analysis, show-back, and managing commitment-based discounts. To address this, many enterprises use a KPI-driven, hybrid-cloud purchasing strategy to align their commitment period with infrastructure workload characteristics and lifecycle. This strategy aligns well with the concept of a smart cloud.

5. Cloud usage optimization

Dynamically matching cloud resources to demand to optimize cloud usage and ensure sufficient business value can also pose challenges.

That’s why organizations increasingly implement automated workload management solutions that match running resources to workload demand, scaling, de-scaling, and even turning off unused resources in real-time to maximize ROI while minimizing the TCO. Business-driven KPIs and OKRs help organizations define outliers and set the thresholds that inform alerts and actions.

6. Organizational alignment

FinOps capabilities are embedded within organizational processes and units, and often, this is where companies fail at FinOps. Unfortunately, many start with technology (tools) instead of organizational alignment, creating conflicts and challenges around policies, governance, and areas of responsibility.

Organizations must establish a FinOps framework at the C-level, complete with policies, processes, best practices, and a playbook that help ensure organizational alignment and buy-in. Once aligned, organizations can harvest the benefits of FinOps including:

Centralized smart-cloud cost managementAlignment to and accountability of cloud roles and usersImproved confidence and accuracy around budgets and forecastsAdvanced communication throughout the organization, creating a FinOps culture

Improve cloud optimization and FinOps maturity

As data volumes and usage grow, cloud FinOps enables organizations to manage cloud investments more strategically, efficiently, and cost-effectively. Understanding FinOps maturity can help organizations identify and resolve trouble areas to improve cloud optimization and accelerate business outcomes.

GDT can help your organization improve cloud optimization and FinOps maturity. By engaging with GDT, you’ll get a portfolio-level analysis of your FinOps maturity, along with cloud service optimization opportunities and recommendations to help you maximize spend efficiency, reduce cloud costs, and develop strategies for proactively and dynamically managing future expenses and utilization.

Contact the experts at GDT to learn more about improving cloud optimization and FinOps maturity.

Cloud Management

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is fast becoming the cornerstone of business analytics, allowing companies to generate value from the ever-growing datasets generated by today’s business processes. At the same time, the sheer volume and velocity of data demand high-performance computing (HPC) to provide the power needed to effectively train AIs, do AI inferencing, and run analytics. According to Hyperion Research, HPC-enabled AI, growing at more than 30 percent, is projected to be a $3.5 billion market in 2024.

This rising confluence of HPC and AI is being driven by businesses and organisations honing their competitive edge in the global marketplace as digital transformation is accelerated and brought to the next level through IT transformation processes.

“We’re seeing HPC-enabled AI on the rise because it extracts and refines data quicker and more accurately. This naturally leads to faster and richer insights, in turn enabling better business outcomes and facilitates new breakthroughs and better differentiation in products and services while driving greater cost savings,” said Mike Yang, President at Quanta Cloud Technology, better known as QCT.

While HPC and AI are expected to benefit most industries, the fields of healthcare, manufacturing and higher education and research (HER) and Finance stand to gain perhaps the most due to the high-intensity nature of the workloads involved.

Application of HPC-enabled AI in the fields of next-generation sequencing, medical imaging and molecular dynamics have the potential to speed drug discoveries and improve patient care procedures and outcomes. In manufacturing, finite element analysis, computer vision, electronic design automation and computer-aided design are facilitated by AI and HPC to speed product development, while analysis generated from Internet-of-Things (IoT) data can streamline supply chains, enhance predictive maintenance regimes and automate manufacturing processes. HER utilises technology to explore fields such as dynamic structure analysis, weather prediction, fluid dynamics and quantum chemistry in an ongoing quest to solve global problems like climate change and achieve breakthroughs and deeper exploration through cosmology and astrophysics.    

Optimising HPC and AI Workloads

The AI and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms underlying these business and scientific advances have become significantly more complex, delivering faster yet more accurate results, but at the cost of significantly more computational power. The key challenge now facing organisations is building HPC, AI, HPC-enabled AI, and HPC-AI converged workloads—while shortening project implementation time. Ultimately, this will allow researchers, engineers, and scientists to concentrate fully on their research.

IT support would also need to actively manage their HPC and AI infrastructure, leveraging the right profiling tool for optimisation of HPC and AI workloads. Optimised HPC/AI infrastructure should deliver the right resources at the right time for researchers and developers to accelerate computational processes.

In addition, understanding workload demands and optimising performance helps IT avoid additional workload and extra labour for finetuning, significantly reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO). To optimise HPC and AI workloads effectively and quickly, organisations can consider the following steps:

Identify key workload applications and data used by the customer, as well as the customer’s expectations and pain pointsDesign infrastructure and building the cluster, ensuring that hardware and software stack can support the workloadsContinue the process of always adjusting and finetuning

QCT leverages Intel’s profiling tool Intel Granulate gProfiler to reveal the behaviour of the workload before tapping its deep own deep expertise to analyse the behaviour and design a fine-tuning plan to help with optimisation. Through this process, organisations can ensure rapid deployment, simplified management, and optimised integrations—all at cost savings.

AI continues to offer transformational solutions for businesses and organisations, but the growing complexity of datasets and algorithms is driving greater demand on HPC to enable these power-intensive workloads. Workload optimisation effectively enhances the process and, at the heart of it, enables professionals in their fields to focus on their research to drive industry breakthroughs and accelerate innovation.

To discover how workload profiling can transform your business or organisation, click here.

Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation, High-Performance Computing

Despite all the buzz about digital disruption, according to McKinsey, 70% of company transformations fail. A primary reason is that although technology gets a lot of priority, the aspects that make technology work – such as awareness, trust, and culture – get overlooked. Enterprises can tap into the true potential of cloud by harnessing change management in a digital transformation.

The digital transformation-led business shifts are likely to play out over three horizons: digital core, innovative business models, and new ecosystems. Across these three horizons, the value created by cloud will be differential and based on hyper automation and hyper engineering, which require different human skill sets. For digital transformation to be successful, organizations must adjust to new norms and collaborative ways of working.

Organizational change management in the dynamic digital era

Organizational change management (OCM) is about how an organization manages the transformation of its processes and technologies. This includes the strategies for enabling the transformation to take place on the people’s side, as well as plans for adjusting processes and making the organization ready for transformation from a technical standpoint.

Organizational change management is the methodology of tools and processes used to minimize the impacts of the change and increase business adoption. When the change management process is planned well in advance, it can help mitigate employee concerns about digital transformation. This might include:

Clear communication about the need for transformation and the vision and goals behind itUpdates regarding changes in plans and processesInformation about retooling and upskilling employees for the new technology

Driving cloud adoption through innovation, culture, people, and leadership

If you are looking to drive innovation on an enterprise-wide level, you cannot ignore the people, culture, and leadership aspects. Establishing your cloud readiness and implementing migration will impact your entire organization and its culture. To build an effective cloud adoption approach, be sure to consider the following factors:

An organization’s readiness to welcome changeThe prior impact of change on successes and failuresCommunication patterns across your organizationYour organizational structureYour organization’s leadership alignment and executive commitment

To be successful on an enterprise-wide migration to AWS cloud, you will need to have a dedicated pool of staff with production experience in AWS cloud, as well as established operational processes and a leadership team dedicated to mobilizing the correct resources and preparing your organization to overcome the transformational challenges.

TCS has a dedicated and varied set of change management services aligned to the specific culture and leadership of an organization to drive change management spanning enterprise-wide transformation efforts. At TCS, we educate, engage, and upskill the workforce, drive employee adoption, and instill the readiness for change. This encourages actions that foster behavioral change in performance management, stakeholder engagement, and business management. The solution does not just speed up the adoption process by educating the decision-makers, but it also makes your organization prepared to adopt the shift positively and holistically.

Author Bio

TCS

Ph: +91 9818069874

E-mail: renu.parihar@tcs.com

Renu Parihar is the global head of cloud consulting and value advisory at TCS’ AWS business unit. She has worked with global customers to assess, define, and implement their cloud adoption strategy. She is responsible for curating strategic offerings for cloud enablement, ways of working and cloud value measurement. She holds several accreditations in AWS and Azure, DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering and is Design Thinking certified.

To learn more, visit us here.

Digital Transformation

For materials technology company Umicore N.V., understanding the skills of its people is crucial to delivering on its sustainability goals.

When workers are handling dangerous chemicals, specialist expertise and a thorough knowledge of health and safety processes is essential for employee welfare. Furthermore, a commitment to valuing people based on their skills is at the heart of the company’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) strategy.

Umicore was recently awarded a 2022 SAP Innovation Award for its innovation in optimizing its workforce with safety, sustainability, skills, and continuous learning at the forefront. Keeping people safe means making sure they have the right knowledge to carry out specific tasks. It’s critical that they complete training courses to a satisfactory level. At the same time, assigning job roles based solely on skills requires an understanding first of what those skills are.

Getting a clear view of employee skills

Taking an inventory of skills was proving a challenge for learning and development professionals in Umicore’s rechargeable battery materials (RBM) division. A reliance on numerous spreadsheets and disconnected tracking tools across different production lines made it difficult to get an overview of the overall training status of its workforce.

Umicore needed a harmonized and straightforward way of tracking and analyzing the current skill levels and qualifications of different groups of employees.

Creating a matrix for competency management

Working closely with the RBM team, SAP partner Flexso helped Umicore to refine its Competency Matrix extension for SAP SuccessFactors to meet Umicore’s precise requirements.

The result was an innovative competency management solution that provides at-a-glance information about each employee’s competencies, including their skills, abilities and expertise, as well as details of courses taken or qualifications gained.

Umicore defined required skills and qualifications for specific job roles to ensure that employees have the knowledge they need to complete tasks effectively and safely. An intuitive dashboard clearly displays skills gaps that employees may have, along with appropriate training courses to fill the gaps, giving employees, teams, and departments visibility into how they can continue to upskill and reskill to meet changing demands and requirements. And, due to tight integration with the SAP SuccessFactors Learning solution, course and qualification status details are always up to date.

With an overview of competencies across the workforce, it’s straightforward for leaders and HR teams to identify key areas where further training is required. This helps inform future training strategy and enables Umicore to make the most of its learning and development investment.

Enabling effective strategic workforce planning

One area in which the competency matrix delivers significant value is in helping managers react in an agile way to meeting last-minute staffing needs due to unforeseen employee absences or turnover. With full details of each employee’s skills available at the touch of a button, Umicore can quickly and easily find an employee who is qualified to stand in. Umicore also uses the competency matrix for the future planning of new hires to ensure its up-and-coming talent is prepared. It enables the company to make hiring decisions based on a candidates’ skills, in line with the company’s DEIB principles.

Empowering employees to take control of their careers

Employees are empowered to easily identify key areas where they need to reskill and upskill in order to reach a particular level of seniority or apply for a desired job role. Thanks to the integration with SAP SuccessFactors Learning, employees can access further details on a specific course and even subscribe to it directly from the matrix.

By making skills requirements transparent in this way, Umicore is empowering its people to take the steps to attain career goals needed to map out each employee’s unique learning and career path. In this way, the matrix supports internal mobility and helps ensure an equitable recruitment process.

Find out more

Learn more about how to foster continuous learning and make learning and development decisions that enable companies to run more-efficient operations while empowering employees with SAP SuccessFactors Learning.

Data Management

Among managed services providers, (MSPs), comdivision stands out for many reasons, among them the depth of the company’s work with VMware. Not only is comdivision a VMware Principal Partner that earned the distinguished VMware Cloud Verified distinction, but it’s also the only MSP globally to have earned all eight VMware Master Services Competencies.

Designed to recognize partners with deep expertise in specific VMware solutions areas, each Master Services Competency requires MSPs to attain advanced certifications, not just for the company, but for a set number of employees. References from customers are also required to demonstrate high-level service capabilities and performance.

Earning even one VMware Master Services Competency is difficult – comdivision earned Master Service Competencies in Cloud Management and Automation, Cloud-Native Apps, Data Center Virtualization, Digital Workspace, Network Virtualization, VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation, and Software-Defined Wide Area Network, (SD-WAN).

We recently caught up with the Yves Sandfort, CEO of comdivision, to learn how he defines success as an MSP and how the company approaches its client engagements. We also took the opportunity to learn about Yves’s views on the role of IT and where he sees the greatest opportunities for enterprises to improve their relationships with MSPs and professional services partners.

“In comparison to many MSPs, we’re small,” says Sandfort. “But what we lack in size, we make up for in agility. It’s a real differentiator for us. For example, last year we were approached by the CIO of a German car manufacturer that needed to rapidly deploy a Desktop-as-a-Service Solution. We weren’t the only services provider capable of doing the work, but we were the ones that could do it the fastest and do it well. Speed and agility are the hallmarks of success of very experienced, highly knowledgeable, small teams.”

Notably, comdivision offers a full portfolio of highly customizable IT solutions and services. These include everything from the design of next-generation data centers to the development of cloud-native applications and the migration and management of multi-cloud deployments – all backed up by a full range of training services overseen by experienced and certified experts.

Based in Muenster, Germany the company has offices in Munich, and in Vienna, Austria, as well as in the U.S. in Tampa, Florida. Customers around the world rely on comdivision’s multi-faceted and proven cloud services.

“We are extremely flexible so that every customer decides the level of management they want us to oversee,” adds Sandfort. “We approach the cloud in much the same way. We help our customers determine which cloud makes the most sense for them whether that’s a private, public or multi-cloud approach.”

Sandfort stresses that flexibility is a crucial aspect of any client and MSP relationship.

“A managed service should by its very nature be a customized solution, not one hindered by an unchangeable off-the-shelf product or forced into a three-year contract the customer can’t change,” he says. “The pandemic and our collective experience over the past few years showed that IT must adapt to changes quickly. An MSP should help them do that.”

He adds that it’s crucial that enterprises remember that IT is a means to an end, not a result.

“In the end, it’s all about building a solution that matches and completes the customer’s IT and business requirements. That means identifying tasks that do not directly influence business value that can be managed externally so internal IT teams can focus on what really differentiates their business. Too often organizations fail to focus on IT that differentiates their business and helps it grow. For example, if you’re a furniture retailer you may not do better by creating your own exchange from scratch, but you may benefit from a more efficient point-of-sale system that uses the cloud and changes the way you do business. Business needs and desired outcomes should drive IT, not the other way around. Most lackluster or failed client and MSP relationships reflect a disconnect on this point.”

Not surprisingly, comdivision is growing – it is already a multi-million dollar business that is seeing 100% year-over-year growth – but when asked what he enjoys most about his work, Sandfort says it’s the same thing that first led him to comdivision more than 25 years ago.

“I still love it when a client or prospect approaches us with something they believe isn’t doable,” he says. “That’s when we can really shine as a team, think outside of the box and help them achieve their goals. It’s even sweeter when you go the extra strep and deliver an extraordinary customer and user experience.”

Learn more about comdivision and its partnership with VMware here or listen to Kathleen Tandy’s interview with Yves on the VMware Partnership Perspectives podcast.

Managed Service Providers, VMware