Like its predecessors, COP27 offered mixed results. As the conference’s detractors have long lamented, if COPs were truly effective, we wouldn’t have needed 27 of them. Still, there are some genuine marks of progress to celebrate. A landmark “loss and damage” fund will come as welcome news for the many vulnerable countries that have been disproportionately affected by climate change. But compensating for damage isn’t the same as preventing it, and the continued reluctance of major nations to outlaw or even cut back on fossil fuel projects suggests there will be no shortage of fresh damage in the future.

Welcome as public discussions around climate change like COP may be, words alone are insufficient. Until leaders start turning promises into actionable policies, each conference will be marred by the sense that more could have been done. One of the great frustrations is that tangible solutions exist. They are fully formed, just waiting for forward-thinking leaders to put them into practice. City and business decision makers serious about demonstrating their sustainable credentials have an obligation – and an opportunity – to turn the tide.

One of those tangible solutions is LED lighting conversion. It’s also one of the easiest and most overlooked means of making measurable progress toward climate goals quickly. For example, if a mid-sized industrial town upgraded all of its approximately 1,000,000 conventional light points to LED, carbon emissions could potentially be reduced by over 18,000 tons of CO2 per year—equivalent to the amount of CO2 saved by taking 7,000 fossil-fueled cars off the road.

The good

The new “loss and damage” fund is by a distance the most important development to emerge from this year’s COP. It ensures that countries from the developing world that have borne the brunt of climate change, despite being only minor contributors to it, will receive help from many of the world’s largest emitters.

There was skepticism going into the conference as to whether such a bill really stood a chance of being accepted by the power players. The United States was expected to oppose any measures that might leave it financially liable for its enormous historical emissions, but after the EU pivoted toward supporting the measure, the US followed suit – a win that should not be overlooked.

However, it’s worth tempering any tendency to celebrate by pointing out there’s still the crucial matter of deciding exactly who will be paying what to whom, a task reserved for future COPs. Strong but so-called transition economies like China and India may be reluctant to agree they owe as much as more established superpowers like the US. Also, while these measures will have a huge positive impact in dealing with climate change’s effects, they do nothing to halt its causes.

Another less reported win is the commitment to deliver the trillions of dollars needed to drastically cut emissions and help societies adapt to the increasingly severe impacts of climate disruption. Suggested reforms within multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank would see more investment in green initiatives and renewable energy, as opposed to funneling further funding into detrimental fossil fuel endeavors.

The bad

The mood in general was low heading into COP27. The triumphalism that coloured some aspects of COP26 had long since faded in the glare of the 2022 energy crisis. Prices soared, citizens felt the squeeze, and leaders from around the world who had proudly preached the need for sustainable solutions in simpler times were quick to walk back their promises.

So too did COP27 walk back pledges made in Glasgow a year earlier. New wording added to that conference’s final agreement calls for the accelerated development of “low-emission” energy systems. Experts warn this diluted language is a very intentional way of leaving the door open to further natural gas development.

Agreements around phasing down coal were made at COP26, but no further progress was made at COP27. The burning of fossil fuels remains the heel on our planet’s throat, and leaders seem reluctant to alleviate the pressure. As noted by Dave Reay, policy director at ClimateXChange and executive director at Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, “COP27 seems to have been more a case of trying to prevent backsliding on what was agreed at COP26 in Glasgow a year ago, rather than getting new and stronger ambition and action on reducing emissions.”

The ugly

Leaders continue to talk about their commitment to the Paris Agreement’s main goal of limiting global heating to no more than 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. But this increasingly feels like a pipe dream. Even limiting warming to a 2° C rise seems more unlikely with each passing year. Keeping the promises made in Paris would require a 43% cut in global greenhouse emissions by 2030. Current policies are on track to cut only around 0.3% by that date.

The results of further inaction are clear. They can be seen everywhere from Bangladesh and Pakistan to Australia and California. So, what can be done now that will make a difference?

The things we can control

Lighting accounts for 13% of all electricity usage worldwide and 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Cities account for about 78% of global energy consumption, and lighting accounts for around 40% of that. Too often lighting is overlooked as a sustainable solution but transitioning to connected LED is a sure-fire way to reduce emissions and benefit from immediate energy savings – as much as 80% over conventional non-connected lighting.

If the EU switched all the existing conventional light points in its 27 member countries to LED, it would save around €65 billion per year — money that could be spent on developing sustainable energy and other initiatives while also relieving the burden on citizens struggling to pay their energy bills.

What about on a bigger scale? A global switch to LED could see energy consumption drop by 5% globally by 2030, even while the total number of light points continues to rise.

Relying on an annual climate conference isn’t enough to stave off catastrophe. Action is needed now, by all of those with the power to enact change. Connected LED technology is here and available today — it’s proven, cost-effective, and relatively easy to deploy. Buildings and cities simply can’t achieve net zero or energy-neutral targets without it.

The barriers to switching connected LED lighting are low, especially with funding available from programmes such as the EU Green Deal and the IIJA in the US. It’s time to pick up the pace.

Learn more about the advantages of switching to public LED lighting here.

Green IT

This article was co-authored by Katherine Kennedy, an Associate at Metis Strategy.

For years, ESG has been little more than a sub-bullet or appendix slide in most CIOs’ strategy decks. But changing consumer sensibilities and heightened investor scrutiny have swept ESG, and technology’s role in it, to the top of the agenda. Corporate strategies hinge on it.

ESG is new territory for many technology leaders and getting up to speed quickly is essential. In a recent survey conducted by Lenovo, 45% of respondents said the CIO should play a critical role in executing the enterprise’s ESG mission. While the scope of ESG is of course much broader than environmental sustainability, the need for speed here is particularly heightened as the SEC moves to enact rules that will require publicly traded companies to disclose their emissions data as early as 2024. For many CIOs today, the first question often is: Where do I start?

Nick Colisto, SVP & CIO, Avery Dennison

Avery Dennison

Nick Colisto, SVP & CIO of Avery Dennison Corporation, has some ideas. ESG has been a priority for him since he joined the company, which designs and manufactures a variety of labeling and functional materials, like tapes and bonding solutions. Over the past several years alone, his team launched a web application that powers AD Circular, a program for recycling used paper and filmic label liners. The team also developed an enterprise-wide system for tracking ESG metrics, like Scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions. Insights from that system are highlighted regularly in the company’s sustainability reports.

Below, Nick suggests a few areas CIOs can start on the journey to creating a proactive ESG agenda that anticipates compliance requirements:

Dedicate a sustainability leader to the CIO organization

A dedicated sustainability expert focused on how data can drive the enterprise agenda while satisfying relevant ESG policies and guidelines is essential, Nick says. “Data is essential to a modern ESG strategy, and you won’t make strides of any respectable length if you’re constantly fighting for the time of the company’s shared ESG resource.”

If your search comes down to hiring someone with ESG policy knowledge versus technical expertise, prioritize the former, Nick says. That way, the person can narrow the scope of ESG use cases to those that will drive the most meaningful results before involving the technical talent responsible for delivery.

Of course, finding the right person is only half the battle. CIOs must set sustainability leads up for success. That means giving them visibility and access. Nick’s leader sits on Avery Dennison’s sustainability council, where he has visibility into the enterprise ESG agenda. He also has a mandate to engage business leaders to collect requirements for any initiative the council pursues, which he then translates into technical specifications and tracks from start to finish.

Focus on data governance

Data governance is vital to ESG initiatives. At minimum, it will form the backbone of your ESG reports, which will command much of your focus at the start of your ESG journey. In addition to ensuring compliance, data will also inform which goals your organization pursues and how it tracks them. Thus, the quality of your data must be exemplary.

Securing that high-quality data, Nick says, starts with establishing a single source of truth. This has been on many a CIO’s docket for a while, but the work often is not prioritized because the value of the data was relatively low, used mostly for historical reporting to support brand positioning and annual sustainability reports. “As investors demand increasingly detailed data to assess climate-related risk, data quality is critical,” Nick says.  “Disparate data will not work for ESG as it’s too difficult to analyze and report on. Also, consolidated ESG data has increased operational and strategic value.”

Once a single source of truth has been established, it must be maintained with robust data governance and management policies. These policies will become especially critical once the scope of regulatory reporting expands to include Scope 3 emissions, those a company generates indirectly, through its supply chain, products, and partners, which are particularly hard to track, says Nick.

Drive accessibility and transparency

Once a lead has been established and a clear governance process put in place, the next step is to make your data accessible and transparent. That means making sure anyone who needs the data can get their hands on it and, once they do, easily understand it. That task is harder than it sounds, but it’s worth your while. ESG programs are unlikely to gain momentum if every routine compliance report requires employees to endure a scavenger hunt for the necessary data. More importantly, people are less likely to invest themselves in a cause that is opaque or poorly understood. Knowing your ESG goals, who they involve, what data they rely on, and what activities will move the needle will make your employees feel they are part of the process. Our team sees four key ways to do this:

Publish a dashboard of the ESG metrics your organization values most: It might include metrics such as carbon offset, DEI ratings, or aggregate scores published by a third-party ESG rating provider. To drive adoption, involve leaders from various departments early in the dashboard design process.Contextualize ESG data and share it with the enterprise: ESG metrics are frequently affected by operational decisions. Yet, the people making those decisions often lack the skills to analyze and interpret ESG data effectively. Provide employees access to low/no-code analytics tools such as PowerBI and Tableau to help them understand their impact on each metric.Incentivize teams to make ESG-smart decisions: Moving the needle on ESG goals requires leaders and their teams to change the way they work. To do that, they need a reason. Give leaders incentives to get smart on the company’s ESG vision, the core metrics, and the role each team plays in realizing the future. For instance, Bank of America’s My Environment® employee program offers, among many incentives, to reimburse a portion of the cost of an employee’s electric vehicle or charger.

The principles above, when applied in earnest, can do much more for companies than simply earn them a sticker for compliance. Nick’s focus on ESG at Avery Dennison demonstrates the central role CIOs can play in asserting IT’s role not only as a service provider, but also an active contributor to an organization’s ESG mission and, ultimately, its growth.

CIO, Green IT, IT Strategy

The contact center market is growing at a rapid pace. As the key business hub for sales and service, contact centers have long served an important role for customer experience (CX). During the pandemic, they became even more critical.

Today’s contact center agents handle 7.2 more calls per day than they did pre-pandemic. The contact center software market is expected to grow at a 21% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2022 to 2030. But, with all this growth comes new potential costs. New market conditions demand new technological solutions, and increasing service demands put new financial pressures on contact centers.

Amid a fast-changing landscape, contact center executives have a critical task: Keep pace and grow while also reducing costs and driving efficiency. In many ways, this comes down to choosing the right technology. Let’s look at four key decisions that can fuel effective cost management in contact centers.

Reduce reliance on brick-and-mortar by going remote with the cloud

Legacy on-premises contact centers are quickly becoming outdated. According to research from Deloitte, only 32% of contact centers had migrated to the cloud as of 2021, yet 75% of survey participants planned to complete the journey by mid-2023. As a whole, Market Research Futures reports that the global market for cloud contact center technology will reach $45.5 billion by 2030, a CAGR of 24.8%.

Why the sudden aggressive shift away from legacy brick-and-mortar contact centers? There are a host of reasons, many centered on the cloud’s ability to enable more flexible, omnichannel service delivery and enhanced CX solutions. But it also has much to offer from a cost-savings perspective.

The cloud frees your contact center from the constraints of physical infrastructure and allows you to rely more heavily on a remote workforce. This makes it easier to scale your business seasonally or in response to demand. It also allows you to optimize your service delivery — Talkdesk reports that cloud-based contact centers experience 35% less downtime than on-premises sites.

With the right cloud solutions, these cost savings can prove substantial. According to a report from Forrester, for instance, the average contact center that moved to Genesys PureCloud saves more than $800,000 and gains a net total benefit of more than $5 million over three years.

If you truly want to improve cost management in your contact center, cloud migration is essential.

 Leverage your data

Across the board, today’s contact center managers and agents have more data at their fingertips than ever. The combination of more personalized customer experiences with advanced technology has made this possible. The only question is: Are you putting all that data to use?

You can access far more than the standard surface-level metrics, such as average handle times or wait times. With modern contact center software, AI-powered features, like sentiment analysis or in-depth transactional data, give you deep insights into customer satisfaction and behavior. And the best tools offer real-time access to these metrics.

Fully integrated contact centers are poised to make this data accessible and useful for anyone who can leverage it to improve customer experience. With access to real-time insights and the ability to share them across customer-facing departments, agents can direct the customer journey more effectively and efficiently.

Consider how much more quickly a data-empowered agent can respond to a customer calling in for the second or third time — or how a supervisor can use analytics to provide better coaching for that agent. When you leverage the data you have, your resources stretch farther.

Enhance self-service options

Customers want more self-service options. They’ve been shouting this for a while now, but many companies have been slow to listen. In NICE’s “2022 Digital-First Customer Experience Report,” 81% of customers said they expect more self-service options from businesses than they were getting. Yet 40% of companies think they offer enough.

That’s not to say that customers only want to deal with chatbots or automated IVR systems. But when it comes to simple issues — think checking your bank balance — customers would far rather resolve it on their own than wait to speak with an agent.

The good news for contact centers is that self-service options, when done well, can bring significant cost savings. With advances in conversational AI, chatbots and IVRs have taken huge leaps in their ability to understand and address many customer concerns. Plus, bots can handle far more customer inquiries than human agents. This ultimately lowers call volume for agents, allowing you to reduce staffing for minor customer service issues and focus on improving CX.

Automate as much as possible

Automation enables self-service, but it’s capable of creating far more efficiency for contact centers. Besides automating many of your customer interactions with AI-powered bots and IVR technology, you can automate many other mission-critical processes.

In fact, automation should touch every aspect of the contact center. From simplifying marketing workflows to handling staff scheduling to managing callbacks, automation can drive efficiency in every area.

And, in a contact center that relies so heavily on technology to shape customer experience, one type of automation may prove more important than any other: continuous testing.  The software that powers your contact center must be continuously tested, monitored, and updated to ensure quality CX at all times. Continuously testing performance identifies and resolves issues across the development process before they become too complex and costly to fix. As you scale your business, manual testing processes will struggle keep up with the demand. Automated continuous testing gives you ongoing feedback and helps identify defects so you can resolve issues in real time, rather than executing load tests or larger annual testing. This not only reduces labor costs but also prevents costly downtime and CX failures.

Scale Your Business Efficiently

Thanks to technology advancements, today’s contact centers face near-limitless possibilities for growing rapidly and improving customer experiences. But only the contact centers that scale efficiently, control their costs, and maximize their returns will earn the biggest benefits. By leveraging their data, moving to the cloud, expanding self-service, and relying on automation, contact center leaders can keep costs under control and set the stage for future success.

Learn more about the cost savings and business benefits enabled by Cyara’s CX Assurance platform.

Digital Transformation

David Vidoni wants to be sure that workers throughout his company know “how IT can transform the business.”

Vidoni, vice president of IT at tech company Pegasystems, gets the word out using various channels, from reports on metrics to easily accessible dashboards.

He also launched a quarterly newsletter that — in addition to sharing tech tips, information about available technology tools, and new initiatives — showcases how IT is improving company operations.

“It’s about making sure there’s universal awareness of the work we’re doing, how IT impacts individual employees and departments, and how IT helps us operate better as a company,” Vidoni says.

“It’s another level of engagement, to put IT stories into context and make them available for all employees in terms that are meaningful to them,” he adds. “We want this newsletter to bring more visibility to what we’re doing, how IT helps the business and how IT aligns to our [corporate] strategy. It helps raise awareness on the value we’re delivering to them.”

Vidoni’s actions get at a longstanding challenge for CIOs: How to effectively demonstrate the value of IT.

And it’s a pervasive issue. Research firm Gartner found 63% of surveyed CIOs struggle to communicate IT’s value; 14% of them said they’ve rarely succeeded in the task.

Similarly, Info-Tech Research Group’s CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic survey found that 80% of CIOs and CEOs experience frustration with IT’s failure to deliver value, even as C-suite leaders rank delivering benefits as the most important goal for IT.

Vidoni says a newsletter helps him escape being part of such statistics, noting that while that approach is working for him, other strategies can prove to be just as effective for CIOs.

Indeed, researchers, CIO advisors, and experienced IT executives say CIOs need a multipronged strategy to demonstrate the business value of IT and show how much IT positively impacts business outcomes.

“CIOs are finding out what value actually means, they’re tracking it consistently and they’re directly linking back to improvements, to the various initiatives and tasks, and they’re saying, ‘Here are the numbers to prove it,’” says Info-Tech Research Group principal research director Ross Armstrong.

Here are some steps IT leaders can take to ensure IT gets the business cred it deserves.

First, ensure business-IT alignment

Multiple experts say CIOs who want to more effectively communicate how IT brings value to the business must first actually deliver that value.

“It’s much more powerful to deliver value, not talk about it,” says Andy Sealock, a senior partner at consulting firm West Monroe.

That, though, remains a challenge for many. Info-Tech Research Group, for example, has found that two-thirds of CIOs are misaligned with their CEOs when it comes to the target role for IT.

“The role of an IT leader is not to provide technology but to enable the delivery of business value and benefits through technology,” Armstrong says. “So the challenge is for the CIO to understand what the business actually needs when it says, ‘You need to deliver value.’”

CIOs have been getting that message for a while now, Armstrong says, but many have yet to live it. He points to Info-Tech data that shows only 25% of business leaders in struggling IT organizations believe IT has an effective understanding of business goals, whereas 72% of leaders in expanding and transforming organizations believe IT understands goals effectively.

Larry Wolff, who as founder and CEO of the consulting firm Wolff Strategy Partners has long focused on what he terms “the IT value journey,” says CIOs who want to leap into that latter category of transformative IT departments must do so by first building credibility among their business-unit colleagues and earning their trust and respect.

That means delivering the fundamentals flawlessly, identifying opportunities to enhance business operations, and developing programs that transform them.

“If you’re all in [the] maintaining [category], then you’re not delivering value. So boost that by enhancing IT services — for example, by delivering better services at a lower cost or getting to software and infrastructure upgrades. And then partner with business leaders to build transformational projects that will put dollars on the top or bottom line,” Wolff says. “IT will always be doing some maintenance and enhancement but also hopefully doing some level of transformation. So what you’re talking about here is a shift in the balance, where you’re able to continually do more transformation that has a positive ROI.”

Deliver business outcomes, not IT projects

Bobby Cameron, vice president and principal analyst at research firm Forrester, says the majority of organizations still talk about funding IT projects. He advises funding specific business outcomes instead.

That, however, requires CIOs and their IT teams “to plan, manage, and report in business terms,” Cameron explains. And it requires business function leaders to become and remain engaged with the initiative, too.

Cameron says this approach means executives — including the CIO — must identify and articulate how exactly the technology supports a business objective. That in turn helps everyone involved understand the raison d’être for the technology, and it allows everyone to identify whether and by how much the endeavor succeeded.

He cites the case of a CIO at a b-to-b property casualty company who unsuccessfully lobbied for money to upgrade her tech stack to increase resiliency and speed. The CEO denied the request because he felt the legacy technology still worked. But the CIO got the CEO’s approval and executive suite backing when she shifted the project’s focus, saying it was designed to support sales and marketing objectives that could demonstratively improve revenue and profitability.

Thomas Phelps, CIO and senior vice president of corporate strategy at software maker Laserfiche, has a similar take.

“Where CIOs may struggle is communicating how a new digital initiative creates business value in a way that resonates with the C-suite and board,” he says. “Similar to a Shark Tank pitch, put yourself in an investors’ shoes and speak in the language that the C-suite will respond to. Be ready to explain in a few minutes — and with the right set of visuals and compelling storytelling — how a digital initiative could increase revenue, reduce costs, mitigate risks or otherwise lead to a desired business outcome,” he says, noting that even something technical like a containerization initiative, which typically doesn’t garner interest in the C-suite, could gain traction when it’s positioned as key to a specific business outcome such as cost reduction.

Identify IT metrics that demonstrate business success

IT has conventionally used metrics that measure how well technology performs but do little to show how much it supports business outcomes, so Cameron and others advise CIOs to find more business-oriented ways to quantify how technology delivers.

Cameron says he believes objectives and key results (OKRs) are effective for demonstrating how technology delivers business outcomes.

Benjamin Rehberg, a managing director with Boston Consulting Group and leader of its Technology Advantage practice in North America, also endorses the use of OKRs.

Rehberg explains that OKRs describe what CIOs are trying to do and enable them to measure whether IT achieved its goals, by how much, and the impact of those achievements. For example, one objective could be to reduce the time required to run a transaction by a certain percentage, with the OKRs showing how close IT came to hitting or exceeding the target and what its performance is worth.

Mark Taylor, CEO of the Society for Information Management (SIM), a professional association for CIOs and IT leaders, says return on investment (ROI) and other financial measures of a technology initiative’s success — such as how much it boosts revenue, increases profitability, or decreases costs — are just the start.

He says CIOs can and should now quantify how technology initiatives impact other business functions — for example, how much it speeds up closing a deal and how much additional “stickiness” it creates in customer relationships. CIOs can even use business-outcome metrics such as days sales outstanding (DSO) to show the value of back-end technology like an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, Taylor says.

“Those are all measurements that technology can impact, and it’s incumbent on the tech leader to know them,” Taylor says, noting that systems today actually enable CIOs and business-unit heads to collect the data for a much more expansive list of metrics. “You have to demonstrate the value of IT in a way that’s measurable, and the technology will help you measure some of the things we’re talking about.”

Juan Perez, CIO at Salesforce, also believes it’s important to identify and use metrics that quantify IT’s successful impact on business objectives.

“Justifications for IT investments should be closely aligned with business objectives, and IT strategies should line up with business strategies in order to maximize the return on such investments,” he says. “For CIOs, it’s important that both IT and business professionals agree on the metrics that define a successful investment and work together to jointly act and monitor for results.”

He points, as an example, to business interest in using automation to reduce low-value manual tasks so that workers can spend more time on customer-focused activities that drive growth and revenue. So CIOs here can quantify how many hours of work automation saves and the value of that.

Share the story of IT’s impact

Using metrics to quantify IT’s value is just half the equation, experts say. The other half is using them to tell IT’s story — another area that has traditionally been a struggle for tech leaders.

“The value of tech investments hasn’t been communicated properly, and that’s a big pain point for IT as well as for the business, even as there has been a shift away from viewing IT as a cost center and seeing IT instead as a value center,” Armstrong says. “IT still misses out on being seen as a strategic partner to the business because it’s not measuring properly and it’s not communicating. So there is a misalignment about what value actually means both to IT and the business.”

To be clear, CIOs don’t need a full-scale marketing campaign, or even a newsletter — although, as Vidoni attests, it can be helpful. Rather experts say it’s about CIOs sharing details on IT’s successes and putting them in business context; they should not assume that their business-unit colleagues can see for themselves how technology delivers business value.

“There’s not enough focus on storytelling in IT,” Armstrong says. “So remember, words matter; don’t be too technical. Second thing, know your audience. And third, know who’s your protagonist and what conflict they’re trying to resolve. Telling how you’ve helped them overcome that conflict is what creates the great story.”

Business IT Alignment, ROI and Metrics

Organizations with lagging supply chain maturity are at a disadvantage. They lack digitization – and therefore have more manual work. Plus, there’s little visibility into their operations, often resulting in poor planning and collaboration.

An enterprise can’t help but be inefficient and operate with low resilience and little agility in this environment. Inevitably, the organization will face higher costs, more risk, and deliver subpar services to other enterprises and customers. Moreover, in today’s highly disruptive and competitive environment, competitors will easily surpass them.

To improve both efficiency and resiliency in the supply chain, companies must pay attention and address the gaps and misalignment throughout their supply chains.

The best way to accomplish that, and increase supply chain maturity, is with supply chain convergence. This approach involves aligning systems, data, and processes from across an organization so all departments can successfully collaborate and seamlessly share data.

Yet, supply-chain convergence can seem overwhelming for enterprises with lower supply-chain maturity. Luckily, today’s technology can help companies leap their maturity, and there are specific steps to take to get started.

Six steps enterprises with lower supply-chain maturity can take right now toward supply-chain convergence include:

Understand the silos, gaps, and misalignment in your supply chain. Then, take a thorough inventory and include company leaders and managers from across departments to get a complete picture of the gaps across your organization.Prioritize what gaps need to be reduced. After compiling a thorough list of the gaps and misalignments, choose one or two to address first. Then, consider the ones that, by correcting, would result in the biggest impact on customer service and the bottom line.Simplify processes. Set a goal to eliminate any outdated, redundant systems you might have as well as elaborate processes. Simplification is an important strategic process to keep businesses lean and agile. Find technology and a platform that can make your supply chain more seamless.Outsource non-core functions when feasible. Find an external service provider to help with non-core functions. This is an important step in the simplification process and will allow you to focus on core and competitive functions.Build alignment and synchronization. Encourage alignment across the end-to-end supply chain. Having the right technology in place will help foster synchronization and collaboration.Continue to expand visibility and collaboration throughout the supply chain. Building up your supply chain maturity is a process that takes time. Continue to assess your operations and set achievable goals as you go.

Companies that bolster supply chain maturity through supply chain convergence should expect improvement in several areas, including supplier collaboration, cost management, and new product development.

Strong supplier collaboration helps build supply chain efficiency, resiliency, and sustainability. In addition, strong cost management is a powerful tool to create a competitive advantage jointly with suppliers.

Often, new product development is run inefficiently because of silos in the organization, which impacts time-to-market and business opportunities. However, the business can derive significant value when good collaborative processes and alignment are established between procurement, supply chain, engineering and suppliers.

While, at first, supply-chain convergence might seem daunting for organizations just getting started, by committing to specific steps, you’ll be well on your way to building a resilient, sustainable, and profitable supply chain.

At GEP, we help companies with transformative, holistic supply chain solutions so they can become more agile and resilient. Our end-to-end comprehensive, unified solutions harness technology to change organizations for the better. To find out more, visit GEP.

Supply Chain

The headlines read “Artificial Intelligence (AI) will completely transform your business.” But does the hype match the reality? We have been seeing these exclamations for two decades, but where are the examples? Where are the success stories? Is AI really a game changer, and does it actually apply to my business?

Every ten years it seems there is a new technology that is going to change the world, but all too often only leads to disappointment when adopting it becomes too challenging. For several decades this has been the story behind Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

However, we have now reached a tipping point with AI where the compute capacity, ubiquitous connectivity, and wealth of data can match the moment and assist business leaders to create unique competitive advantages by better serving customers, improving processes, enhancing employee experience, or reducing costs. As Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, said, “Most applications, in the fullness of time, will be infused in some way with machine learning and artificial intelligence.”

As I advise in my presentation “Building a Smarter Organization Powered by Machine Learning” there are three key focus areas successful organizations master to get value from AI: Mindset, Skillset, Toolset. This creates a flywheel we call The Data Network Effect, where you acquire more data, which helps create better algorithms, which drives better engagement, ultimately leading to happier customers, which then generates more data, and so on, and so on. This process then repeats, improving and generating more value with each cycle.

While some companies are already benefiting from this transformative impact of AI, we see others struggling. There is often confusion at the management level about the applicability and impact of AI, leaving business leaders to struggle to find the right use cases to prioritize. Additionally, navigating existing AI resources reveals a great deal of highly technical information but little in the way of business impact examples and guidance. Until now, a comprehensive list of AI and ML use cases that serve as meaningful references for business leaders simply did not exist.

The bottom line: Most companies know they need AI but have not found the answer to “where do I start?” In this blog post, I will share five actions you can take to move beyond the buzzwords and make your AI-driven digital transformation a reality that will shape your organization’s future.

Be clear on the “why”

Do not just implement AI so you can check it off your list. AI should be used to support your business strategy not be your business strategy. Do not fall victim to the analogy of “a hammer in search of a nail, that only winds up pounding in screws everywhere.” Instead evaluate your business opportunities or problems and then determine if AI is the right tool for the job.

Get alignment from your stakeholders

I always told my team and customers that long-term success with AI solutions is driven by people, not technology. As you begin to work with various stakeholders on your initiative, ensure you are effectively and continuously collaborating with them. Structure your strategy discussions around the four key areas: business, finance, technology, and science, and encourage stakeholders in those areas to weigh in on your AI project decisions.

It is also important to develop an organizational culture that empowers people across business and technical roles to become involved with your AI. Our customers who have successfully rolled out these initiatives have one thing in common: they embraced the culture of continuous process evolution and had champions who brought teams across the organization together. Creating a culture that excels in change management, celebrates failure as learning, promotes new skills acquisition, and fosters collaboration is a great way to propel your organization in this direction.

Explore what is possible with AI and get started

To help you get started, AWS has just launched the AI Use Case Explorer, a complimentary, interactive guide for business leaders and AI practitioners to conceptualize and build their applications.

With over 100 use cases and sub use cases and 400 customer success stories, this tool can help you quickly identify the right use case to get started based on your industry, function, and desired business outcome. Once you have identified your use cases, you can read about success stories from around the world and kickstart your deployment, from proof-of-concept to full production, by following an expert-curated action plan provided for your specific use case.

Do not boil the ocean … we tried that … it did not work

As an industry, we have learned hard lessons from trying to deploy monolithic data warehouses, business intelligence implementations, and analytics solutions by gathering, cleaning, and preparing tremendous swaths of data from across the entire enterprise. This delayed value, increased cost, raised complexity, and ultimately failed to deliver. Instead, focus on gathering the data specific to the use case you are implementing, and drive quickly through proof-of-concept to production and value. Then move on to the next use case and do the same thing again, expanding your data assets as needed.

Technology is not the objective, it is the enabler

True value does not come from just using a new technology, but rather from using new technology to reimagine existing processes. As you look to implement your AI project go beyond just creating an AI-enabled twin of your existing process, and instead reimagine the process using the new capabilities of AI.

As AI transforms the way we live and work, from optimizing business processes to personalizing content for consumers, I am excited about all of the innovative and impactful AI applications that can assist businesses as well as individuals in the coming years. The possibilities are endless! I invite you to check out the AI Use Case Explorer site and explore your organization’s unique path to AI success.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tom Godden is an Enterprise Strategist and Evangelist at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Prior to AWS, Tom was the Chief Information Officer for Foundation Medicine where he helped build the world’s leading, FDA regulated, cancer genomics diagnostic, research, and patient outcomes platform to improve outcomes and inform next-generation precision medicine. Previously, Tom held multiple senior technology leadership roles at Wolters Kluwer in Alphen aan den Rijn Netherlands and has over 17 years in the healthcare and life sciences industry. Tom has a Bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University.

Artificial Intelligence

Due to Nigeria’s fintech boom borne out of its open banking framework, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has published a much-awaited regulation draft to govern open banking procedures. And at its core is the need to secure customer data through a robust set of requirements.

The regulations streamline how entities who handle customer banking information will secure their systems and share details within protected application program interfaces. They’ll also seek to standardize policies for all open banking participants, and come at a time when the country is enjoying a boom of fintech and banking services that have attracted international funding in the startup space.

According to the Africa Funding Startup 2021 report, Nigerian fintech has brought in more than half of the US$4.6 billion of total African startups, which underpins the growing need for more financial products, and facilitates greater data sharing across banking and payments systems that open banking provides.

For Emmanuel Morka, CIO at Access Bank Ghana, open banking is the future and enterprises should seize on the opportunity.

“Traditional banking is fading away,” he says. “Open banking is the only way you can set systems like agency banking, mobile banking and use dollars.”

He notes that fintech has been at the forefront of the open banking system in the region and believes it will spread across the continent. But wherever there’s money, there’s insecurity and the free exchange of application programming interface (API) across banking platforms has opened opportunities and risks as well. Unsecured systems and API channels can be a point of vulnerability.

Securing customer data

“One of my headaches as a CIO is no one is fully protected,” Morka said, adding that open banking has to ensure that customer data and assets aren’t compromised, so all endpoints in his organization must be fortified. The Operational Guidelines for Open Banking in Nigeria published by the CBN stress that customer data security is critical for the safety of the open banking model. The preliminary draft will guide the industry discussion before the final guidelines are put in place by the end of the year.

The foremost thing to secure data, according to Morka, is to expose fit-for-purpose data for consumption. This means that CIOs need to limit data accessibility to what is requested and can be used.

“I see open banking as an exposure of some data over a secured standardized channel to third parties for consumer banking,” he said. “I am the bridge between business and technology.”

He also says that it’s not only the core banking products that need protection but also tools on CRM and other software that centers on customer data.

The framework provided by the CBN also considers constant monitoring of systems of third-party API users in the open banking system. TeamApt, a Nigeria-based fintech startup, has helped over 300,000 businesses use its digital banking platform and is anchored in open banking.

The company sees legislation such as the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation (NDPR) as a big consideration for companies dealing with personal data.

“Due to the sheer size of personally identifiable information being shared, in the hands of bad actors, this data can be used to pilfer bank accounts, erode credit ratings, and conduct identity theft on a large scale,” said Tosin Eniolorunda, founder and CEO of TeamApt.

Organizations like banks also suffer using resources to recover stolen data, losing customer trust in the process, he said.

“These regulations ensure that customers have some sort of control over how their data is collected, processed and shared,” he says.

The Central Bank’s regulation has also factored in the NDPR requirements to craft how financial institutions manage customer data, and the regulations outline that consent is needed for use of customer data in open banking to avail them of financial products and services.

Six steps to achieve a secure open data platform

There are several steps IT experts can take to make sure customer data are in line with privacy laws, and that security across all systems is in place to shield these data points from leakage.

1. Technology leaders must have their systems and processes adhere to privacy laws and the final guidelines to be published by the CBN. “It’s important that executive teams work closely with lawyers who have the necessary data experience to advise on the requirements and implications of applicable regulations and guidelines like those released by the CBN on open banking,” says Eniolorunda.

2. Morka suggests that only a customer’s information that’s relevant to a transaction should be used—something he calls fit-for-purpose data. Not all data points need to be exposed during transactions. CIOs need to ascertain what type of data can be enough for transactions to securely take place.

3. Eniolorunda encourages the use of technology in know your customer (KYC) processes. Morka also says that the use of artificial intelligence (AI) should be implemented to make the process of KYC easier on financial institutions while making it accurate and efficient.

4. There needs to be constant evaluation of banking systems and APIs used in transactions, according to Morka. In terms of supply chains, Eniolorunda adds that companies must ensure that third-party vendors they use have the highest possible security standards, and the security programs of these vendors must be routinely audited and validated.

5. Customer education is key. Morka agrees that some technologies like smartphones and internet access have not reached most rural regions in African countries. This hinders the appropriate use of banking technology and slows down its adoption. For those who have embraced digital banking, constant education on how to keep their accounts secure is essential.

6. The collaboration between stakeholders will make the banking ecosystem robust and guide its growth. The CBN, through its Open Banking Guidelines, seeks to ensure that its oversight affords more collaboration for superior digital banking products for customers.

Banking, Data and Information Security

For today’s organizations, improving customer experience is a top business priority for 2022 and beyond – and rightly so. Today’s customers are demanding more from companies, including a seamless experience where any concerns or questions are addressed quickly and efficiently.

To retain current customers and to attract new ones, organizations must deliver. To do so successfully, they must be resilient, productive, and efficient. To accomplish the goal, it is critical to transform silo’d departments that aren’t aligned or seamlessly connected when it comes to systems and data.

As supply chains become increasingly more complex, companies must fully commit to supply chain convergence.

Traditionally, convergence has been defined as integrating an organization’s various systems. But today’s supply chain convergence today runs much deeper.

“Convergence is broader and more organic,” says Alex Zhong, director of product marketing at GEP. “It’s not just connecting two systems. It’s whatever needs in the supply chain to come together to meet customer demand and put customers in the center.”

Simply put, this means systems, data, and processes from across an organization must converge to enable successful collaboration, such as employees seamlessly sharing data in an inclusive way. This involves four essential considerations:

1 – Linking procurement and sourcing with supply chain

One key area of supply chain convergence involves connecting procurement and sourcing with supply chain management.

Historically, these functions, with different goals and objectives, have been disconnected, with communication lacking. Supply chain management wants to deliver to customers, while sourcing and procurement want to lower costs. What’s more, the two more often than not run on different systems, making collaboration near impossible.

“But if the two don’t work together, supply can’t successfully meet demand,” says Zhong. “Procurement and supply chain need to converge.” Technology can enable this critical convergence, helping information to flow and creating a unified view of spend and cost. Once technology connects procurement and supply chain, supply chain convergence across the entire company becomes easier, Zhong says.

2 – Harnessing the right type of technology

Selecting the correct technology is key, and it can mean the difference between success and failure when working toward supply chain convergence. A modern platform with built-in data analytics and embedded artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities allows organizations to reach true convergence, aptly hedge risk, and cope with any severe or lingering disruptions like pandemics or inflation.

3 – Incorporating convergence to help with sustainability

Organizations that embrace supply chain convergence are also better positioned to meet sustainability goals. “If procurement and supply chain are not working together, you can’t improve sustainability,” says Zhong. “You need a wholistic picture of your ecosystem to accomplish your Scope 3 goals.”

4 – Improving supple chain maturity and cost savings

Finally, companies that pursue supply chain convergence improve their supply chain maturity while reducing costs company-wide. For example, improved convergence helps keep inventory levels stable and product and service levels high, meaning customers come back for more. This also allows business leaders to manage spend more effectively.

In today’s world of increased risks, more complicated supply chains, and high customer expectations, working in silos is no longer sustainable. Supply chain convergence is the way of the future. 

GEP helps companies with transformative, holistic supply chain solutions so they can become more agile and resilient. Our end-to-end comprehensive, unified solutions harness technology to change organizations for the better. To find out more, visit GEP.

Supply Chain

April 14, 2022

Source:  Tim Guido, Corporate Director, Performance Improvement, Sanmina | Manufacturing Tomorrow

Many industries such as the automotive, medical and semiconductor sectors must comply with third party standards to control processes, reduce risk and ensure quality during the manufacturing of products. Over the past few years, organizations have begun to embrace an even broader mindset towards risk-based thinking, motivated by the growing discipline of regulatory compliance and an increasing number of unexpected global events that have impacted their operations.

When manufacturers want to implement a new production line, they are examining all of the possible risks and scenario planning for every reasonable action that could either prevent or mitigate a risk if it materializes. Some people call this business continuity, risk management or disaster management. Nothing has brought these concerns more to top of mind than the past few years of dealing with trade wars, the pandemic, extreme weather and supply chain shortages.

Risk Management Checklist

Risk management is about the practical investment in preventative and mitigating measures that can be tapped during a crisis. There are four main areas to consider when building a risk management or business continuity program:

Risk Assessment. The first action to take is to put a stake in the ground in terms of what could go wrong at each plant, whether it happens to be a fire, earthquake, chemical spill, cyber attack or something else. This will vary for different regions. The possibility of an earthquake impacting operations in California is much higher than in Alabama. An act of terrorism may be more likely to happen in certain countries versus others.

Let’s say a manufacturer is setting up a new production line. The first step would be to complete a risk assessment form that spans different areas – Employee Health and Safety, Finance, HR, IT, Operations and Program Management. Based on the guidelines provided, the person completing the form identifies possible issues and potential impacts – this could be anything from production or shipment delays to impacts to employee health and safety. Then a threat rating is assigned between 1 and 5 for both occurrence and impact, with 5 being a critical situation that warrants the most attention.

Then, preventative and mitigating measures are determined based on factors that could contribute to the adverse event. Are there inadequate controls, lack of monitoring or poor training that might add to a problem? Could these areas be improved to either prevent or lessen the potential impact? While an earthquake isn’t preventable, an organization could retrofit their building and upgrade IT systems to ensure that people are safe and can still perform their job duties if a temblor hits.

Incident Management & Business Recovery Planning. Building out all of the details for incident management and business recovery is essential, if not glamorous. A contact list needs to be created so that a key lead can contact all affected employees, customers and suppliers during a disaster. Getting customers and suppliers in the loop early could enable them to become part of the solution. A call notification script should be drafted that provides consistent communications to impacted parties and decisions need to be made about whom gets told what in certain scenarios. Checklists and drills should also be included, such as how to safely clear employees from a facility.

 

Internal Audit Checks. Once the business recovery plan is drafted, it should be audited annually. This ensures that the right action plans are included and the correct project leaders and backup leads are identified and verified. Each section, such as advanced planning, revision histories and recovery priorities, must be evaluated as part of the audit to ensure that there’s a solid plan in place and that all participants are properly trained and on board with the approach.

 

Test Exercise. Every plant should run through a drill for their highest-priority emergencies to evaluate preparedness. They must be able to prove that there’s a data IT recovery capability and have a rough idea of what can be done for a customer in the scope of the test exercise. If work needs to be moved to another location, are they able to confirm the backup plant’s capacity and a timeline for the transfer? Do they understand the open orders that need to be transferred? How does the detailed recovery plan work in terms getting operations back up and running?  For each action, what would be considered a success and how soon? A sample objective would be to get access to a site within one hour and have at least 80 percent of the team notified within the hour of a situation.

After running a drill, evaluating its effectiveness and making improvements to the plan and communicating it to the team should occur. If actions such as getting access to the site, notifying the team, understanding orders, getting alternate facility confirmation and knowing the right customer contacts can all be demonstrated during the exercise, then the majority of functional activities are ready to go, even if the actual crisis requires some fine tuning of processes. Just like the overall plan, the test runs should be performed at least once a year to verify their continued relevance.

Preventing Problems Before They Happen

At Sanmina, we are seeing increasingly robust expectations for risk management programs across the markets that we serve. Customers are more eager to get involved in understanding the details of these plans than ever before and are considering them an integral part of their manufacturing strategy.

It’s vitally important to understand potential risks, evaluate the scope and effectiveness of an action plan and cultivate a living risk management process that is periodically reviewed and updated. It’s also critical to instill a preventative mindset within an organization’s culture because it’s not always an intuitive thought process. While fixing a problem in the moment may be beneficial, it’s important to build a mindset that’s not just about corrective thinking but a proactive approach that identifies potential root causes that could help prevent or lessen a problem that may occur in the future.

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