Despite economic uncertainty, the 2023 State of the CIO survey from Foundry reports that the vast majority of CIOs (91%) expect to maintain or increase their tech budget this year. The technologies driving these investments include data analytics, AI, and other means to improve the customer experience, as enterprises seek to drive new revenue to modernize legacy environments. 

Security and risk management are also atop the list for most CIOs this year, having been cited as a top 5 tech investment by 40% of IT leaders surveyed in the report. 

Meanwhile, developers are skilling up in cloud, blockchain, and machine learning, which Stack Overflow CTO Jody Bailey says are three of most searched topics by developers getting up to speed on in-demand technology.

“Technical questions around blockchain have increased by over 80% every year since 2010, cloud questions by over 50%, and machine learning questions by nearly 50%,” Bailey says. “We’re seeing an upswing in questions about languages like Python and Java Script that fuel interactive tech, including machine learning, that thrive in cloud environments.”  

All these technologies have the potential to disrupt the business world, or are already doing so, as technology disruption is often the result of converging existing technologies rather than the introduction of something completely new, says Sanjay Macwan, CIO and CSO at Vonage, who sees several current technologies merging to create new gains.

“Convergence of rapidly advancing 5G wireless capabilities, cloud computing coupled with edge computing, and AI advances are ripe for disruptions across industries and use cases,” Macwan says.

Read on to see which technologies will shake up the status quo in the next year. 

AI to upend data privacy and security

The widespread use of AI is prompting the need for guidelines and protections around its use, especially in areas such as education where interest is high and young people are involved.

Stanford’s Artificial Intelligence Index reports the US is leading the world in AI investment: “In 2022, the $47.4 billion invested in the US was roughly 3.5 times the amount invested in the next highest country, China ($13.4 billion). As AI technologies have become increasingly ubiquitous, this education is being embraced at the K-12 level.”

“The explosive popularity and interest in artificial intelligence will continue into 2023,” says Tim Pritchett, engineer operations manager at Matrix Integration. “Issues of data privacy with minors and validity of information generated by AI are already moving into the foreground of the technology discussions around AI.”

Jeetu Patel, executive vice president and general manager for security and collaboration at Cisco Systems, cites another area of concern: AI will drive sophisticated new security threats this year.  

“AI will enable more advanced scams, including incidents of identity theft and convincing deep fakes,” he says. “Despite the tremendous positive impact AI can have, it’s more critical than ever that the industry ensures responsible and ethical use cases, guidelines are implemented, and, when appropriate, restrictions win out.”

And while AI will keep security pros on their toes, Vonage’s Macwan says the technology can, to a certain degree, be part of the solution.

“I’m excited to see significant adoption of AI-enabled automation across all enterprise workflows and processes,” Macwan says. “For example, ‘ask-IT’ and ‘ask-security’ chatbots that can answer and guide employees to fulfill many of their routine IT and security needs with ease and with accuracy.”  

Generative AI to unlock new value from data

AI advances, in particular around generative AI solutions such as ChatGPT, will also shake up how enterprises address a key strategic imperative: getting the most from their data.

John Goodson, CTO of CCC Intelligent Solutions, specifically sees promise in areas where deriving insights from large amounts of data previously required a lot of manual manipulation.  

“Underlying AI technologies such as ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, SageMaker, Azure AI, and others will be foundational in allowing innovators to quickly solve hard problems to disrupt vertical market processes,” Goodson says. “Most of these tools require little ramp-up time to get started with powerful impact. Where data is not structured or is more difficult to leverage, more sophisticated AI approaches will continue to dominate, causing disruption.”

Rahul Subramaniam, CEO at CloudFix, expects entire new product categories to emerge from large language models built by the likes of OpenAI, Google, and AWS — something that may help enterprises unlock hidden value in the vast troves of unstructured data in their stacks.

“Businesses have been looking to unleash insights from all their data,” Subramaniam says. “The challenge is the ability to assimilate this vast amount of data and summarize that knowledge into something actionable or useful. Until recently, this was nearly impossible. Large language models have made solving this much more feasible today.”

Chatbots to finally prove their CX/EX power

Chatbots are frequently heralded as an efficient way to handle internal requests and assist external customers, but they have yet to live up to the promise for many customers. Evan Huston, chief digital officer at Saatva, says this year should bring much-needed improvements in this area. 

“AI chatbots have turned a corner and will disrupt the market,” Huston says. “Chat is an early solution for AI language models, but we will see it expand more broadly to content and marketing applications. SEO today is still largely based on human keyword analysis aided by intelligence tools, then human-drafted content targeting those keywords. AI will advance enough to automate this process. By the end of 2023, new AI-language model applications will emerge beyond chat, changing our approach to online content.”

CloudFix’s Subramaniam also sees a turning point for this area, and again, points to large language models driving the improvements across various types of data businesses collect.  

“Up until now, products limited themselves to domain-specific knowledge and languages, and answering questions meant building specific dashboards for specific users and queries,” Subramaniam says. “I foresee chatbots using these new models to answer questions that require data from finance systems, CRMs, support platforms, and a variety of other internal solutions, negating the need for hand-built semantic models or needing to explicitly state where the data should be fetched from or how it should be joined with other data — delivering answers more efficiently to both customers and employees.”

Blockchain to build up business use cases

Blockchain financial products are another area that could be disruptive in the near future, says Evgeny Fil, CTO at EOS Data Analytics.

“There are many challenges in the traditional finance system that make it clunky for end users,” Fil says. “Things like centralization, with a single point of failure, lengthy know-your-customer and anti-money laundering procedures, high fees, and friction are big defects of the legacy financial system. Blockchain technology can allow for decentralized financial services — like liquidity providing — with all KYC/AML done almost instantly on blockchain and with lower fees.”

And, according to the State of the CIO survey, IT leaders expect the market to remain tight for blockchain expertise, as with other highly in-demand technologies, such as cybersecurity and data science and analytics.                                           

“The global blockchain in telecom market will reach $16.48 billion by 2030, growing by 62.8% annually over 2020-2030,” according to a report from Pragma Market Research. “The market is driven by rising security concerns, high demand for fraud management, 5G implementation, and the increasing number of blockchain consortia.”

Digital tech to drive healthcare transformation

As a lasting result of the COVID pandemic, healthcare technology is ripe for disruption, says 1Path Chief Customer Officer Luca Jaboellis, especially in remote or otherwise underserved areas. The digital transformation of health services is creating opportunities for better, faster, and more personalized care.

“Telemedicine and remote healthcare services have led to a revolution in the way patients are accessing healthcare,” Jaboellis says. “With the use of teleconferencing and remote monitoring, doctors and clinics can provide timely and efficient care. Hospitals are becoming increasingly dependent on emerging technologies, too. From electronic medical records systems to handheld tablets for every staff member, the key is to stay ahead of the curve and be a leader in this new era.”

According to the World Economic Forum, the pandemic caused investments in the healthcare industry to nearly double to $57 billion in 2021, led by telehealth and mental health. “Tech companies are increasingly focusing on healthcare, while digital health startups are also growing rapidly,” the agency reports. “There is also growing attention being paid to data — better aggregation and analysis is enabling more informed insights and potentially also prediction and disease modelling. Meanwhile, AI is being used to support areas including diagnosis, clinical decisions, monitoring and treatment, and workflow. AI-assisted medical imaging is already in use, and many drug companies are exploring AI-assisted drug development.”

Sustainable tech to become an enterprise priority

Sustainability is top of mind for IT leaders, as well as their colleagues and customers in 2023. It’s an area where leading organizations are innovating new ways to do well by doing good. “Investments in sustainable technology also have the potential to create greater operational resiliency and financial performance, while providing new avenues for growth,” according to a Gartner report on strategic technology trends for 2023. 

“The biggest disruptor in industry this year probably isn’t technology at all,” says Peter Zornio, CTO at Emerson. “Many of our customers are finding the business case for sustainability is critical to having an actionable path, similar to their experience with digital transformation a few years ago. At the intersection of the ways things have always been done to the tech-powered vision of tomorrow, this new architecture will create boundless automation that democratizes data so companies can optimize their business and sustainability performance.”

Keith Fritz, director of solutions architecture at QuesTek, specifically sees improvements in storing renewable energy as a potential disruptor in the making for this year.

“There are a number of players on the verge of disruptive battery technology,” Fritz says. “It’s not quite here yet, but 2023 could be the year we see a tremendous leap forward in battery size and capacity that could have implications for all sorts of industries.”

IoT to mature and converge

The past few years have brought a surge of IoT applications, says Preethi Janardhanan, lead product manager at Rapid Finance. And IoT is an area that’s making gains as it matures and converges with other technologies.   

“We are seeing the influence of IoT across industries,” Janardhanan says. “Retailers are increasingly using IoT to streamline the shopping experience and make it more efficient and automated. IoT enables supply chain managers to get a good end-to-end picture of the process and timelines. And as security and fraud prevention become more and more critical, IoT devices allow banks and fintechs to identify the customer with more accuracy and confidence.”

The current economic slowdown caused research firm IoT Analytics to reduce its projections for growth in the market by 5%, yet still estimate enterprise spending will grow by 19% in 2023. The firm also noted IoT projects tend to be resilient amid tech layoffs: “Many IoT projects could get a boost by the influx of highly skilled software engineers that are victims of startup and tech layoffs. The long-term growth potential of the IoT enterprise market is resilient and expected to reach $484 billion in 2027.”

Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Emerging Technology, Healthcare Industry, Internet of Things, IT Strategy, Manufacturing Industry, Video, Virtual Reality

“Startup” means risk. It prescribes small teams of individuals committed to an idea to make the world a better place…or to make themselves a little richer. Why not both? Regardless, new business ventures work under pressure to research, refine, and deliver an idea to the market. The alternative is shuttering for good.

But despite the high risk/reward framework, these Victory-or-Bust ventures don’t have the market cornered on agility and innovation.

With names like Innovation Kitchen, Lab126, The Design Lab, and the eponymous Skunk Works, big companies like Nike, Amazon, Apple, and Lockheed Martin have successfully combined small teams of people at the top of their technical game with large company resources to bring ground-breaking products to market.

Cisco sets aside space for an innovative team operating with a startup mindset. More than an experimental group, they hold themselves accountable the same way any startup should. When their efforts succeed, the impact of their innovations is transformative for the industry and customers.

Cisco ET&I: Cisco’s Big Bets for the Future

Several years ago, Cisco founded the Emerging Technologies and Incubation Group (ET&I), charging them with creating and advancing new products and technologies that earn Cisco’s Executive Leadership team backing. This unique division focuses on new solutions, new markets, and innovative problem-solving.

Using rapid ideation, agile methodologies, incubation, and validation, the group employs startup thinking with a venture capital (VC) backing model, which brings together committed, diverse teams of experts at the top of their technical fields. Those teams partner with universities, customers, and the Cisco Design Partner Program to deliver best-in-class research, next-generation solutions and software, plus customer co-innovation.

“This is one of the most exciting times to be an innovator.”

Vijoy Pandey, SVP of Emerging Technologies & Incubation

Catalyzing the Startup Mindset

In the startup space, ideas thrive or fail. Goals must be met, investors must be satisfied, and product adoption must grow exponentially. Miss a deadline? You might find yourself shuttering the company. The inherent speed and urgency that accompanies working with those stakes can be crushed by slow-moving parts inside large enterprises.

Cisco embraces the startup model by granting ET&I the freedom to work without complex multi-tiered oversight while keeping the stakes high.

Like any startup, delivering on expectations is job one. The group sets milestone-based targets akin to Series A, B, and C funding. The team operates under an Incubation Board of Directors who take the part of investors, providing a funding perspective and leveraging their business expertise to accelerate new ventures. That Board retains the ability to defund projects that aren’t working, aren’t moving fast enough, or aren’t maintaining their original merit.

Inside-Startup Success: Understanding the Venture Capitalist Mindset

Competition for funding is tight, and embracing the traits that make or break a company in the eyes of a venture capitalist can improve the chances of success. Investors in 2023 aren’t convinced by ideas alone—they want to see they’re working with organizations that are built to bring those ideas to market.

Common Red Flags for VCs:

Lack of a clear understanding of the market

Lack of strong enough teams and experts

Lack of a clear path to adoption and usage

Lack of execution against expected milestones

Cisco’s ET&I group takes these lessons to heart when building new market incubations: Get executive buy-in, identify a clear market need, bring in the right teams, and commit to a time-bound plan to achieve product-market fit.

Leveraging Partnerships to Identify Opportunities

Startups are about solving problems. Successful startups set out to thoroughly understand a problem space. They think critically about how innovation and technology can solve challenges and unanswered difficulties globally.

A common barrier to understanding those problems is the innovation team’s lack of insight, lack of understanding of customers’ pain points, and lack of diversity. Without factoring in how other people, cultures, employees, or even countries think about an issue, startups can rush toward uninformed ideas that won’t survive in the market.

ET&I partners with more than 20 universities to explore the full scope of problems ranging from Generative and Responsible AI to quantum security and quantum networks. In 2022, the Cisco Research team within ET&I funded more than 51 research projects, completed 69 publications, issued, and filed 33 patents, and hosted an AI Summit last August. Active research drives active results.

It is well understood that solving some of the world’s most complex problems requires a deep understanding of what customers’ pain points and challenges are. ET&I relies heavily on customer listening, insights from VC communities, and academic research to build empathy with the practitioner, accelerating Proof of Value, Time to Value, and therefore driving rapid product adoption. Leveraging this innovation ecosystem gives ET&I both a competitive edge at the forefront of new technological advancements while shaping its roadmap of its future in cloud-native spaces. It’s a win-win situation.

Investing in Bleeding-Edge Tech

For tech companies seeking to find an edge in an already hypercompetitive market, finding that competitive advantage is what separates the winners from the laggards.

In addition to researching emerging technologies, one area Cisco ET&I set themselves to create a bleeding-edge solution is cloud-native application security products. By following a startup model and engaging deeply with early adopters, they created Panoptica—Cisco’s Cloud Application Security product that enables businesses to more securely adopt modern application architectures demanded by the market.

Companies are frequently either reluctant or skeptical to immediately jump into nascent technologies such as application security that have yet to prove their viability in the market. However, times have shown that companies willing to invest in disruptive innovations are more likely to survive during times of digital transformation. Those who rise to the occasion benefit from building highly scalable, resilient, and fast innovative solutions. Finally, companies can both attract and retain top talent while also staying ahead of their competition.

Embracing an Updated Startup Culture

The world grows more interconnected every day, and businesses increasingly understand that a deeper idea pool comes from a greater diversity of employees. But attracting great talent can be challenging if your company is hanging on to monolithic working models. New visionaries have evolved workplace expectations.

To foster a creative mindset, it’s essential to enable team members to take time away from work to engage in activities that inspire and energize. A growing number of credible studies show that work-life balance is solidly linked to productivity and job satisfaction. Keeping the best talent requires creating standards in a company culture that recognizes that every team member has a life outside the workplace.

By embracing outside activities, providing flexible working hours, and focusing on productivity over facetime, companies looking to foster innovation free their teams to move forward and discover world-changing technologies.

By embracing a state-of-the-art hybrid environment that provides flexible hours, remote work, and an inclusive culture, teams can give their best. This environment encourages teams to focus on Horizon 3 ideas and celebrate both successes and failures. This startup culture also fosters the concept of “flash teams” where individuals and skills come together and work on projects like a movie and then disband when the production is completed. Not to mention that Cisco is adamant about powering an inclusive future for all.

There’s much to get right (and wrong) in embracing and developing a startup mentality. The model of a few committed individuals spending weeks of sleepless nights to achieve a goal isn’t gone, but the market understands those examples aren’t sustainable. 

To keep renewing, to keep creating, and to keep pushing boundaries, Cisco ET&I is creating a new sustainable model for delivering innovation.

Consider checking out more information about ET&I today.

Check out the latest Cisco Research findings and gain a competitive edge.

Learn more about Panoptica Simplified Cloud-Native Application Security.

Cloud Native

Aerospace organizations are pushing new boundaries every day. Their products, research, and technologies are changing the way the world works. We see it every day in the way humanity relies on communication, global positioning, and special analytics to enable smart cities, smart cars, and smart factories. It is their ability to systematically innovate, push boundaries, and challenge norms that propels Aerospace every day — it is what excites growing countries and high-value entrepreneurs to invest.

The impact of space technology, on other industries, is wide and vast, and the innovation ripple of research has spurred many high-profile products, including Teflon and CAT scans, as well as many more developments from NASA.

According to Verified Market Research, the Global Satellite Communication Market size was valued at USD 65.68 Billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 131.68 Billion by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 9.10% from 2021 to 2028. Its impact on the global economy spans many industries, especially Pharmaceuticals, Beauty and Care products, Semi-Conductors, and Food and Nutrients. Companies are working with aerospace technologies to accelerate innovation and provide new differentiation.

What of the Aerospace companies themselves? How are they researching, developing, managing design, planning, producing, and managing their logistics and operations? They, too, are adopting new digital thread technologies, commercializing data more than ever before. They are focused on cybersecurity and sustainability and delivering on the design cycle faster than ever.

It seems natural that Aerospace companies will be planning a large role in the 2023 Innovation awards. Innovations span industries and the innovation awards are celebrated across the globe.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane to celebrate the innovation leadership of aerospace from around the globe. Then, I will share information about the 2023 SAP Innovation Award program and how companies can get involved.

Aerospace and Defense 2020 SAP Innovation Awards

We celebrated a record number of submissions for the 2020 SAP Innovation Award program. Among them were Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd, which developed a “Smart-K” Digital Innovation of KAIZEN for aerospace manufacturing.

Manufacturing of aerospace and defense systems can be a labor-intensive industry. It is crucial to link engineering, which must maintain tight control of configuration and change, to the shop floor, which requires continuous improvement on a daily basis.

Using SAP S4/HANA Manufacturing for production engineering and operation to establish a consistent digital link between production engineering and production execution ensures both frequent changes and change management control. The accumulated data will also help streamline business processes and improve productivity.

KHI created a new vertically integrated digital platform for production engineering and manufacturing, making it easy to balance strict change management with frequent improvements (i.e. KAIZEN). This competitive advantage collects digital data, reduces flow time, and leads to a more data-driven business.

“The competitive advantage of our production process is that it’s sustainable KAIZEN. We are confident that our ‘Smart-K’ digital innovation of KAIZEN, which includes configuration and change management that are crucial in aircraft manufacturing, will be more strictly controlled and will allow KHI to advance and sustain KAIZEN more effectively,” said Hiroyoshi Shimokawa, Managing Executive Officer President Aerospace Systems Company.

The innovation resulted in over 1 billion manual activities of 4,000 workers being integrated by digitization. There was a 20% increase in productivity for change management by the vertically integrated platform. There was also a 15% reduction in flow time by utilizing actual data and insights from workers.

Covid impacts have created change

As COVID-19 hit, leading manufacturers pivoted to transform their business models, address supply chain disruptions, and manage workforce constraints.

Operations have shifted to focus on business continuity, cybersecurity, and enabling a workforce with digital tools so that they can continue to produce, deliver, and service.

The geographic dependency, regulatory restrictions, and supplier slowdowns forced A&D companies to quickly monitor and respond to sourcing risks while balancing a shift in the demand pattern, these new digitally enabled skills will continue to provide resilience in the future.

A&D companies continue to address new challenges in new ways, there is no better time to share their innovation story with the world.

Share Your Innovation Story

This year’s SAP Innovation Awards aims to honor and celebrate the achievements of forward-thinking companies that have harnessed the power of SAP technology to become an intelligent enterprise; thrive in new business realities; and create positive economic, environmental, and social impact to help the world run better.

SAP is thrilled to showcase these inspirational customer and partner stories that use SAP solutions to differentiate themselves, achieve tremendous results, and adapt to dynamic customer needs.

More information on the award timeline and list of prizes is available here. For details on the judging criteria and category definitions, visit the SAP Innovation Awards website. The submission period is now open, and all entries are due by February 1, 2023. Get started today and join the conversation online using the hashtag #SAPInnovation.

For more innovation stories, follow @SAPIndustries on Twitter and join us on LinkedIn.

Digital Transformation

In many ways, the manufacturing industry stands on edge—emerging from a pandemic and facing all-time highs in demand yet teetering on inflation-related economic uncertainty and coping with skilled labor shortages. Answering these concerns, smart factories are moving to another edge: edge computing, where operational data from Internet of Things (IoT) sensors can be collected and processed for insights in near-real-time. 

Citing an impactful list of benefits, from enhancing production quality and protecting worker safety to filling knowledge gaps and preventing maintenance issues, nearly 70% of manufacturing IT is set to be deployed at the edge within the next two years.[1] To get the most from their investments, factories of the future will need to be driven by data and optimized with artificial intelligence (AI). 

For manufacturers, it’s important to understand the advantages and challenges of edge computing and to discover why smart factories are becoming AI-optimized. There’s also an opportunity to explore how new manufacturing technologies can help build a bridge between information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT)teams.

The Lowdown on Edge Computing 
As new enterprise IT infrastructure deploys at the edge instead of in corporate data centers, there’s one main trigger for this shift. Data. A lot of it. Streaming in from sensors and other IoT devices installed throughout the factory, most legacy IT infrastructure is not designed to capture and process this volume of data in real-time. An edge computing architecture can begin to help solve these problems.

Here’s how edge computing works: a percentage of storage and compute resources move closer to the source of the data and away from the data center. Previously, raw data was transmitted to the data center and then processed and analyzed there, which could take hours or days to complete. With edge computing, those functions are performed much closer to where the data is created, such as on the factory floor. This allows teams to receive and review business intelligence and make changes in near-real-time rather than waiting hours or days to glean insights from data.[2] 

As with any advancement in technology, edge computing comes with benefits and drawbacks. The sheer volume of data available, for instance, prompts heightened expectations for real-time insights. Many innovative manufacturers implementing edge computing have called upon AI to help process data quickly and deliver those insights. 

Inside the AI-Optimized Factory

When manufacturers take AI to the edge, the results include an impressive list of benefits from fewer accidents, defects, or breakdowns to a closure of knowledge gaps. Organizations have demonstrated and reported a greater ability to protect workers, enhance production quality, avoid maintenance issues, and fill skills gaps. 

To keep workers safe while operating machinery, for example, companies can monitor activities via AI computer vision. The system will raise alerts or otherwise intervene if there is human error or equipment malfunction. 

For predictive maintenance, AI can use sensor data to proactively identify problems and save technicians the time it takes to discover or diagnose equipment failures. This type of modern intervention can keep processes and equipment moving at peak performance, avoiding disruptions, and reducing maintenance costs.

Defects cause problems for a company’s brand and bottom line. By using AI computer vision to track the movement of parts throughout the production cycle, any quality issues can be flagged and traced to their origin—whether it’s related to process or components—in real-time. 

Specialists are in demand and often reside offsite. But an AI solution that uses augmented reality can take specialists on a virtual visit, enabling them to evaluate a situation and/or be a guide to onsite staff. Some implementations even have AI capabilities for reading a situation and making recommendations when specialists are unavailable. 

Dell Technologies customers have reported[3] some of their real-world successes using AI at the manufacturing edge as:

Reduced data center footprintOutput increaseFaster error detectionTerabytes of data ingested, stored and analyzed per day in near real-timeImmediate anomaly detectionReduced data storage expenditures

When IT and OT Worlds Collide

Introducing new technologies to the manufacturing space also presents an opportunity to bring Informational Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) teams together.  Traditionally, IT has been removed from the day-to-day operations of the factory but as technologies become more advanced and integrated into the factory (via IoT sensors, streaming data capture and storage, real-time analytics and AI), there is a need these two teams to work more closely together. 

For manufacturers, this means uniting the physical world of machines, devices, and industrial equipment with the digital world of servers, networks, and applications. Each world holds its own distinct sets of data, modes of operation, and teams of skilled staff. [4] Bringing them together would be a force multiplier for enterprise and industrial operations, merging business processes and controls with insights. 

When convergence is achieved, manufacturers are able to make decisions backed by holistic understanding and quickly respond to critical concerns. They also see significant gains in areas such as regulatory compliance, process automation and business intelligence.[5]

A Cohesive Edge Strategy

To create and maintain the factories of the future, smart manufacturers are investing in edge technology that meets their specific demands. This starts with a strong foundation of storage, hardware, software and general infrastructure, and security—everything required to support the journey, from ingesting edge data to generating business outcomes. 

Many leading manufacturers are partnering with Dell Technologies to simplify deployment, integration, security, and management. They are opting for the configured systems built by manufacturing AI experts and adopting engineering-validated solutions designed for smart manufacturing use cases that do not require onsite AI expertise. The measurable results—better, faster insights at the point of need—provide a competitive advantage for manufacturing organizations of all sizes.

Learn more about solutions for AI at the manufacturing edge by clicking here.  

[1] 451 Research sponsored by Dell Technologies, S&P Global Market Intelligence, August 2021





IT Leadership

In a world where sustainability has become the new norm, technology is a key driving force for innovative businesses. Today, companies are looking for sustainable ways to reinvent the entire ecosystem of customers, suppliers, contract manufacturers, logistics service providers, and partners to support their supply chains from product design to operation.

Let’s look at last year’s SAP Innovation Awards (SIA2022) winner cases to see how future-minded companies are harnessing cloud technologies to create economic, social, and environmental impacts to improve people’s lives.

Improve decision-making with real-time planning

The 50th Anniversary Legend of the SIA2022 program, Freudenberg Home and Cleaning Solutions GmbH (FHCS), used different planning approaches and sources, which made it difficult to get a consolidated enterprise-wide view.

FHCS integrated its landscape built on SAP ERP and SAP Business Warehouse with specialized forecasting in SAP Integrated Business Planning (IBP). Having a single, centralized source of data enabled the company to generate simulations, planning, and reporting solutions based on SAP Analytics Cloud. It now takes FHCS only two days to create an initial top-down production plan. By standardizing forecasting processes across its consumer products division, Freudenberg achieved 10x faster planning despite larger data volumes and greater granularity.

Agile decision-making is key in volatile business environments. The process involves several factors that create complications. That’s why having a closed-loop planning process based on a single source is essential for companies to plan not only values but also volumes at any level of detail, which helps them avoid discrepancies between financial and operational plans.

Utilize machine learning and artificial intelligence for sustainable logistics

As more and more companies step into the sustainability game, ensuring sustainable logistics processes is now less of a trend and more of a necessity. Companies that realized the importance of moving beyond financial measures have been using artificial intelligence and machine learning for having full visibility into the supply chain operations.

Arpa Industriale, the SIA2022 building products industry social catalyst award winner, needed to respond to explosive growth in demand. The company was looking for a way to optimize and stabilize that production process while meeting ambitious targets for renewable energy use and reduction of waste and resource consumption.

The Italian manufacturer connected all vehicles in the factory warehouse in real time to work autonomously 24/7 with the goal of loading and reloading bar-coded rolls of raw materials. The sales orders in the system automatically update SAP Extended Warehouse Management, SAP Manufacturing Execution, and SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence for raw material provisioning and production-line scheduling.

With real-time data and machine-learning algorithms analyzing every millisecond of their daily operations, the company reduced energy and water consumption by 80%. By using scrap monitoring dashboards in manufacturing operations, Arpa reduced scrap waste by 96% and saved €750,000 in the first year.

Synchronize physical and digital worlds in Metaverse

Imagine a digital world independent of physical conditions in which you can provide real-time information and a collaborative working environment for employees, business partners, and customers all around the world regardless of distance and physical barriers.

Automotive industry leader award owner Martur Fompak created a metaverse that synchronizes a convergence of the physical and digital worlds. The Turkish car manufacturer created digital twins of 45 robotic welding cells and integrated them into the virtual environment to monitor product and process parameters and calculate real-time carbon emission and energy consumption. The digital twins are implemented using two-way IoT connections with the SAP Manufacturing Integration and Intelligence and SAP Manufacturing Execution platform and synchronized with the physical world.

By running real-time analytics, Martur Fompak reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 12%.

Generate renewable energy with predictive maintenance

As one of the most eco-friendly energy sources, solar panels are the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source that helps companies save time and cost to reach net-zero emission goals.

ENGIE, the utility industry leader and winner of SIA2022, has moved to renewable energy with predictive maintenance in solar farms. The French energy giant utilized 7,600 solar panels in the scope of the digital twin project for maintenance management. This allowed the ENGIE subsidiary in Chile to get an insightful combination of data for optimizing maintenance activities under a cost-benefit evaluation. Generated alerts were 100% reliable, which helped ENGIE reduce the overall cost by 45% for the maintenance of solar panels and inverters.

Focus on end-to-end digitization, not on the problem

Even though companies started their digitization journey a long time ago they can end up with fragmented systems that hinder them to extract meaningful data. Focusing only on the problem area or one aspect may not be the most substantial solution when it comes to digitization.

SIA2022 transformation champion category winner, Fulton County Schools (FCS), is the fourth largest school system in Georgia, with more than 17,600 employees. The school’s existing ERP was more than 12 years old. In addition, the asset management was handled via a third-party solution and not integrated with SAP. Moreover, the system required business users to perform complex manual tasks in multiple disparate systems which increased the risk of human error.

With SAP S/4HANA, FCS created the foundation for a centralized asset data repository, work order management, and equipment tracking to increase overall equipment effectiveness, reliability, and audibility. And with SAP Intelligent Asset Management, the school could identify items that it needed to order and capture while having insights into on-hand assets.

By focusing on transforming the entire organization, FCS is now able to proactively make decisions based on real-time actionable data. This enabled FCS to achieve 52% more accuracy and insights into invoices related to vendors and suppliers while increasing real-time reporting and analytics by 23%.

Discover how future-oriented business leaders embed sustainability within operations to accelerate advancements in both sustainability and operational outcomes: IDC Spotlight: Integrated Supply Chain Planning.

Cloud Computing

Ryan Ding, President of Huawei Enterprise BG, says deeper digital transformation can help companies better deal with uncertainties.

From the rise of remote work to constant innovations in emerging technologies, the breakneck pace of global disruptions is spurring Asia Pacific’s digital growth. Take for instance the internet economy in Southeast Asia, which is expected to double to US$363 billion by 2025. This has created a clear opportunity for businesses, allowing them to ride on this wave of digitalization for seizing greater growth opportunities—as long as they play their cards right.

“The number of companies that have a digital transformation strategy was up 42% from two years ago,” says Ryan Ding, President of Huawei Enterprise BG, “Enterprise direct investment in digital transformation is set to grow at 16.5% per year over 2022 to 2024. Deeper digital transformation can help companies better deal with uncertainties.”

Bob Chen points out that data ingestion, transmission, storage, and analysis are key steps in digital transformation


“We are entering the fourth industrial revolution, where menial office tasks will be carried out by machines. The huge potential of AI in labour will play a vital role in creating wealth,” says Bob Chen, Vice President of Huawei Enterprise BG,. “Tapping into this potential will be key for an enterprise to stay competitive and for a country to develop its digital economy.”

Deepening digital transformation through scenario-based approach

This is why as digitalization continues to sweep the region, industry leaders are looking to leverage cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and the cloud, to bolster their digital transformation efforts. But this requires a marked shift away from the one-size-fits-all approach in adopting new innovations. Instead, businesses have to identify the most suitable technologies for specific scenarios, even if it means tapping on multiple solutions to address their precise needs. This is key to driving continuous, long-term innovation.

For Ryan Ding, identifying what these needs can lead to substantial results. “Using Huawei’s connectivity, and cloud technologies, we are working with our partners to drive ongoing industry innovation and multi-tech synergy, creating scenario-based solutions for diverse customer need. Together, we will create greater value and unleash the power of digital”

“In the past, power line inspectors had to walk dozens of kilometres a day with 10kg backpacks. At one power grid, their engineers inspect nearly one million kilometres of power lines each year, equivalent to walking 25 times around the earth,” he says. “To support their work, Huawei uses a combination of technologies, including solar-powered systems, optical ground wires, microwave, and Wi-Fi. Now engineers can inspect power lines remotely without leaving the office. With these technologies, power line inspection is 80 times faster, and the engineers can work more safely.”

At the same time, data remains the core of digital transformation, and the fuel behind any technology adoption strategy. If data is the new oil, then the 100 exabyte of data that’s being generated daily needs to be refined, before it can power any digitalization efforts. In other words, the data have to be collected, transmitted, stored, analysed, and processed before it’s usable. What’s more is that any improvement in this data processing cycle, no matter how small, can make great strides in helping businesses unlock new opportunities.

This philosophy is a cornerstone of Huawei’s approach to digital transformation. “Data is at the core of digital transformation, and data ingestion, transmission, storage, and analysis are key steps,” says Chen “Huawei provides full-stack data collection, transmission, storage, computing, and analysis solutions to effectively support end-to-end closed-loop data processing.”

Huawei provides full-stack data collection, transmission, storage, computing, and analysis solutions to effectively support end-to-end closed-loop data processing


By combining both data and scenario-based technologies, traditional industries can also realize their digital transformation initiatives. One example is the marine logistics and global supply chain industries, which are now embracing Fifth Generation Fixed Network (F5G)-enabled, ship-to-shore cranes to free operators from tedious, manual tasks. Engineers in the power and energy industries, too, can inspect power lines without putting their lives on the line, while carrying out their responsibilities more efficiently than before. Then there are smart solutions, which can be applied in compute-intensive scenarios, such as in medical image processing and reading, as well as network traffic security in tunnelling protocols, that can enhance key features, such as predictive capabilities and deep learning techniques.

Finding the right technology for the right scenario makes the path forward for deeper digital transformation across multiple industries.


Partnership is a key ingredient to growth

Digital technology may has redefined how industries operate, but the journey of digital growth isn’t meant to be embarked alone. Instead, partnerships are crucial to building a collaborative ecosystem that thrives on shared success, with businesses able to tap on a diversity of services at their disposal.

To better support businesses, Huawei is working with their partners to build three capabilities: consulting and planning around digital transformation, product and portfolio expertise, and solution development. “Huawei offers support to our partners on enablement, platforms, funding, and talent. Over the next three years, we will invest US$300 million to support our partners and train more talent through our ICT Academies and Huawei Authorized Learning Partners,” says Ding.

Enabling new business models through data

More than just technical innovation, digital technologies have the capacity to unlock the hidden potential for organizations across any industry. This can lead to growth across several aspects of their business, be it improved employee confidence or greater customer satisfaction. Thus by examining the unique requirements of their most complex scenarios and processes, businesses can discover the right solution against today’s rapidly changing disruptions.

These topics and more will be discussed at Huawei Connect 2022. Under the theme of “Unleash Digital”, the annual event has taken place in Bangkok on September 19, and will head to three more cities in Dubai, Paris, and Shenzhen. Several ICT products, portfolios, and solutions designed to address a variety of industry scenarios will be introduced. Through a series of summits, broadcasts and exhibitions, there will be previews of new, ground-breaking innovations, as well as best practices and results from our work with customers and partners around the world.

“Deeper digital transformation will help companies better adapt to an ever-changing world. Huawei is working closely with our partners to find the right technology for the right scenario,” says Ryan Ding, “we will support customers in furthering their digital transformation and unleash the power of digital.”

Find out more about Huawei Connect 2022 here.

Digital Transformation

Many modern CIOs have adopted the mantra: No technology for technology’s sake.

Yet they and other tech-enthusiasts still get enamored with the newest tool or excited by the latest leap in digital innovation. Caught up in the buzz, they can convince themselves that a hyped technology’s value proposition must be a fit for their company.

“The tech world is ablaze with emerging technologies that have the potential to transform the way we live, work, and learn,” says Jeff Wong, global chief innovation officer at professional services firm EY. “We’ve seen similar hype-cycle environments come and go before. While there’s incredible promise of transformation from these new technologies, the buzz around it can lead people to believe that implementing the innovation is immediate, but it’s not.”

The trick, he and others say, is to see each technology as it really is — including its potential pitfalls and drawbacks along with its promised potential. In other words, strategic and transformational IT leaders know how to separate the dream from the reality.

With that in mind, we asked CIOs to share with their peers the technologies they think are overhyped, and their thoughts on how to right-size expectations for each one. Here’s what they have to say about the most overhyped tech in IT today.

1. The metaverse

Despite the excitement — or perhaps because of it — multiple CIOs name the metaverse as the most overhyped tech. These CIOs say that metaverse enthusiasts, including vendors who have a stake in its promotion, have created a sense that this technology will have us all living in a new digital realm. Most aren’t buying it.

“Could it turn out to be great? Well, possibly. But so many other things have to change in order for that to work,” says Bob Johnson, CIO of The American University of Paris, who extended his comments to include the related technologies of extended reality (XR), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR). “They have some wonderful applications, but they don’t change the way we live.”

He adds: “If we believe the Hollywood perspective, the metaverse would change everything, but the stuff that’s invisible, all the technology infrastructure, can’t keep up. So I don’t see the metaverse in the near term changing our lives.”

CIOs aren’t the only ones skeptical about the metaverse: A recent poll from software company Momentive, in conjunction with the news company Axios, found that a majority of Americans don’t really give the tech much thought. Some 60% say they’re not familiar with the whole metaverse concept, and among those who are, 35% are more scared of it than not, 14% are more excited, and 50% are neither.

Others, however, show a bit more enthusiasm for the metaverse. Professional services firm PwC surveyed more than 5,000 US consumers and 1,000 US business leaders and found that 50% of consumers call the metaverse “exciting” while 66% of executives say they’re either building proofs of concepts or implementing use cases — and in some cases, they are already generating revenue from transactions.

But even PwC tempers those figures, noting “it’s important to keep in mind that the ‘ultimate’ version of the metaverse (fully immersive, with seamless and secure transitions among a multitude of metaverse environments) doesn’t exist yet.”

Marcelo De Santis, chief digital officer at technology consultancy Thoughtworks North America, blames the hype on “a combination of announcements from social media giants and the like, plus the emerging growth of NFTs [non-fungible tokens] — a debatable application of blockchain technology.”

He says executives need to get a better grip on the technology itself as well as the potential.

“I believe we need clarity not only about what the metaverse is, but also about how we see its evolution; in other words: What’s possible today, tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow? This clarity will help to set a strategic framework on how to evolve the technology, talent, and business capabilities to turn the metaverse into a meaningful transformation engine that is good for business, the public sector, and society,” he adds.

2. Blockchain

CIOs also labeled blockchain as overhyped, noting that the technology has failed to be as transformative or even as useful as hoped nearly a decade into its use.

“Initially, the name ‘blockchain’ sounded pretty cool and quickly became a buzzword that drew interest and peeked curiosities,” says Josh Hamit, senior vice president and CIO of Altra Federal Credit Union and a member of ISACA’s Emerging Trends Working Group. “However, in actual practice, it has proved more difficult for many organizations to identify tangible use cases for blockchain, or distributed ledger as it is also known.”

Hamit points to Gartner research that found a less than enthusiastic embrace of blockchain, with the firm saying that “blockchain has already started to revolutionize ways of doing business, but even CIOs aren’t totally on board, let alone the rest of the executive leadership team.” The firm’s research from 2016 to 2021 show that, on average, 45% of CIOs have said that their organization has no interest in blockchain.

“Despite the promise and hype of blockchain, many CIOs seemingly aren’t buying in,” Hamit says.

Still, Hamit and others aren’t writing off the technology and do predict that blockchain will — eventually — deliver on its potential.

3. Web3 technologies in general

Greg Taffet, managing partner and CIO with Taffet Associates, started his list with blockchain but quickly expanded it to include cryptocurrency and NFTs — both enabled by blockchain — as well as decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

“All overhyped,” Taffet says.

The proof, he adds, is in the rush from some executives to implement the technologies without good use cases.

“Companies don’t want to be left behind while they are figuring out how to properly utilize the technology for their company. So they are going ahead with projects before they determine if there are better or alternative technologies they should use,” he says, although he does acknowledge that “the potential for Web3 technologies is huge.” In fact, he’s working on several smart cities projects that use some Web3 technologies.

“We have done the design and analysis of the specific technologies. We have picked specific technologies for different parts of the project making sure it is an appropriate use,” he says. But he has had challenges finding people who have both the technical knowledge to implement these and the business experience to make good use of them — a fact that he says “contributes to the misuse and hype” that’s currently surrounding Web3 technologies.

Lawrence Anderson, CIO for the Office of the Secretary at the US Department of Commerce, made similar observations, saying that any technology dependent on big infrastructure or multiple parties are so far promising more than they’ve delivered in value.

“I believe it’s a very powerful technology. I think its potential is great. But it’s something we’re not ready for. We’re not ready for it, in terms of the amount of people and infrastructure needed to support the technology,” Anderson says, explaining that the bandwidth, workforce skills, and multiparty agreements required to make such technology hum aren’t yet in place.

4. Cloud and cloud-based solutions

Enterprises have been accelerating cloud adoption of late, in particular since the onset of the pandemic, and the strategic and its solutions often prove their value, but some CIOs count cloud as an overhyped tech. The reason? They see both enterprise IT departments and software makers just doing a lift-and-shift, moving their code to the cloud but not modernizing it in any meaningful way. Consequently, the IT departments don’t see any of the benefits they’ve been told the cloud provides, while the partners and vendors performing those lift-and-shifts aren’t delivering any promised improved performance to their customers.

“We are seeing solutions lifting and shifting from the data center to cloud but without taking advantage of the true benefits cloud-native [development] brings to the table. Organizations are surprised, when they move to a cloud solution and they encounter the same clunky, non-scalable, issues they saw in their data center,” says Monique Dumais-Chrisope, senior vice president and CIO of Encore Capital Group.

She continues: “It’s encouraging bad behavior by some of these organizations that want to declare they are ‘on the cloud’ when really they have just put their hardware-ready code on the cloud. There are plenty of solid solutions, in data centers, that work well there, and we need to give them the opportunity to reinvent themselves on the cloud. Some of their early offerings are clearly not cloud native, and we need to ask the right questions to truly understand what they mean by offering solutions on the cloud.”

5. Artificial intelligence

For its 2021 report, Thriving in an AI World, professional services firm KPMG surveyed nearly 1,000 executives about their thoughts on AI and found that 74% believe “the use of AI to help business is more hype than reality right now.”

Some CIOs share that view.

“People spin it as a magical black box that just does things right, but I’m instantly skeptical because I know the limitations of the technology,” says Matt Nerney, a fractional CIO with TPP Global Services.

Nerney, like other tech leaders, doesn’t dispute that AI is a powerful technology. But, he says, AI requires a lot of resources, including large data sets to train it and data scientists to manage it. Implementing AI is time-intensive and a complex undertaking, and in the end, it’s still based on pattern-matching.

But CIOs aren’t just left to right-size expectations around true AI, they say they’re also combatting software vendor marketing messages that toss around the AI term to describe the algorithms or machine learning powering the technology.

“There’s pressure from outside of IT, [with business-unit colleagues] saying, ‘We should just do this solution. It has AI, so it must be really good.’ And you have to tell them it’s probably not [actually AI],” Nerney says, adding the term “AI” seems much more of an advertising pitch right now.

Hamit agrees: “‘AI is often severely overused as a way to market applications and technologies in order to exaggerate their capabilities.”

6. Collaboration platforms

As organizations shifted to remote work due to pandemic-induced restrictions on in-person gatherings, and as they continue to enable work-from-anywhere policies today, they’ve implemented plenty of collaboration tools to help workers get their work done.

But Eric Johnson, executive vice president and CIO of Momentive, doesn’t see those technologies delivering all the hoped-for benefits.

“We’ve been inundated with every single collaboration tool you can imagine,” he says, noting that while some were in place before COVID hit, many more were implemented during the past few years to support remote and hybrid work models. “They have tons of promise, but I think with the drive around the remote work/hybrid work environment they really started to get overhyped. The whole intent of collaboration tools is to help workers be more efficient, more engaged, to get work done better, but as you introduce every use case imaginable, they almost worked against being more efficient because you have to start having to jump between 12 different tools to get work done.”

He adds: “I don’t know if it’s overhyped, but it is hype, in the sense that it’s a shiny thing that doesn’t live up to the excitement.”

That may not be surprising, given the speed of adoption that took place over the past few years. According to Gartner’s Digital Worker Experience Survey, nearly 80% of workers were using collaboration tools for work in 2021, up from about 50% in 2019 — a 44% increase. The use of storage/sharing and real-time mobile messaging tools also increased, by 74% and 80%, respectively.

Similar to expectations around other hyped-up tech, Johnson expects the market for collaboration tools to mature and, with that, deliver better experiences and overall results.

“We’ve got so many different point solutions, many of which were easy to adopt [by business-unit workers] with a credit card, and sometimes the technology didn’t play nice with others, some were hard to integrate, so it created a complex set of tools that was hard for employees to navigate,” he says.

Johnson expects the market will consolidate, with bigger enterprise platform solutions acquiring some of the best-of-breed offerings and some best-of-breeds building out their capabilities to offer a single software product that creates a more complete, seamless collaboration experience.

It’s then, he says, that the tech will start living up to all its hype — and some other will take its place on the list.

Emerging Technology

By Thyaga Vasudevan, VP of Product Management, Skyhigh Security

As enterprises consider adoption of security service edge (SSE) solutions, they are raising questions about how best to secure data that touches the cloud in any way – whether data is accessed by or stored in websites, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications, or private applications that reside in the cloud.

When evaluating SSE vendors, it’s critical to ensure their cloud-delivered security services provide consistent and unified data protection. And they follow the same corporate policies from managed and unmanaged devices and across every component – from the secure web gateway (SWG) to the cloud access security broker (CASB) to zero trust private access, and even on-premises devices.

Let’s take a look at some real-world examples of how various data protection technologies come into play in a data-aware, cloud-native SSE.

Use case 1: medium- to high-risk unsanctioned IT applications

Your executives go from meeting to meeting using note-taking software such as Evernote that syncs data to the cloud. Even though Evernote is not approved by IT and considered to be an unsanctioned application, you may still want to allow certain employees to use it in the interest of productivity. But you’re worried about sensitive data being uploaded to or exfiltrated from a potentially risky application.

The best way to protect your data in this scenario is to tune your SWG policies so they are more granular or to introduce additional data security checks. You can use your corporate policy framework and apply it to an SWG, which operates inline at the network level and detects sensitive data flowing through traffic.

Use case 2: sanctioned cloud applications

Every day, your employees access IT authorized, or sanctioned, cloud applications like Microsoft 365, Salesforce, Box, and other SaaS applications. In this situation, a cloud access security broker (CASB) that enforces your corporate policy offers the best protection. Even though you trust these sanctioned cloud services, you may not want users to share sensitive data across multiple applications. A robust CASB can detect sensitive data stored, in use, or in motion in the cloud and disallow sharing based on policy.

Use case 3: proprietary applications in the public cloud

Many DevOps teams create and deploy applications in public cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS). All too often, developers leave their S3 bucket in rewritable format, so if any sensitive data is used in that application, the data is exposed to the entire internet.

Let’s take a financial institution that builds an internal application deployed on a public cloud. A user accesses the application, which resides in an unsecured, rewritable AWS S3 bucket, and uploads their W2 form containing personally identifiable information (PII). If the data leaks out, the financial institution is ultimately responsible for the breach. The best way to prevent this is to leverage cloud-native application protection that blends in data context. This not only helps organizations gain visibility into sensitive data stored in the public cloud and identify vulnerabilities, risky behaviors, and malware in these applications – it also helps them automatically identify and remediate threats.

Use case 4: remote access to private applications

Today’s work-from-home culture has proven that VPNs were never designed for tens of thousands of remote employees. Additionally, VPNs offer minimal data protection at higher costs.

Zero trust network access (ZTNA) solutions directly connect your users to authorized private applications by applying least privilege, zero trust principles. The problem is many of these solutions miss out on data context. For example, employees may be using their corporate-issued laptops to access GitHub, but they failed to update their antivirus, so their devices may have vulnerabilities. You don’t want to block these users from being productive and doing their jobs, so you can route them to a remote browser isolation session. That way, to the user, it’s seamless and they can view GitHub or other approved applications, but they cannot download anything. You can extend this technology to your on-premises endpoints and unmanaged personal devices and apply the same policies across the board.

When you’re evaluating an SSE vendor, make sure their built-in data loss prevention (DLP) technology protects data on the cloud, by device, and on premises through consistent policy enforcement and data classification. DLP technology needs to be cloud-native and incorporate unified policies that are integrated across SWG, CASB, ZTNA, and remote browser isolation (RBI). It needs to be intelligent enough to apply these unified policies and controls to block multiple attempts to exfiltrate data. 

Ideally, an SSE should provide a single DLP engine with a single centralized management and reporting dashboard, a single policy framework across all data exfiltration vectors, and a multi-layered set of security technologies that cover all possible use cases across your environment.

To learn more about Skyhigh Security’s approach to DLP in the cloud, click here.

Data and Information Security, IT Leadership