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Author's profile photo Christian Horak

Empowering the Human Element of the Digital Revolution

These days, it’s almost impossible to come across a news site or enterprise IT newsfeed that does not feature the topic of “digitalization” or “digital transformation.” The shift has earned quite the buzz recently.

And, as it is common with megatrends such as “digitalization,” the discussion is mainly centered around the latest innovations in technology, from cloud, mobile, and Big Data to real-time computing, predictive analytics, and social collaboration platforms.

Although digitalization follows the typical adoption pattern of technology trends of the past decades (the famous Gartner Hype Cycle), there is no doubt that the combination of a zero-patience consumer generation with a global network of real-time connected people, applications, machines, and things is leading to a fundamental change in the way companies are conducting business.

If you listen to some of the prominent technology pundits, however, all we have to do is apply these “miracle” innovations, and we’re on our way to digital bliss. Everything is happening at light speed! All is set for straight-through processing from millennial consumer to automatic wish-fulfilment “on tap.” Right?

Well, we all know there is more to this than pure technology.

Yes, granted, there are great – and somewhat tired – examples of digital natives, such as Airbnb and Uber. There are other – equally tired – examples, like the Apple iTunes store, that epitomize the perfect digital business, where the consumer goes from spontaneous awareness to paid fulfillment in mere seconds, without any material goods being exchanged at all.

But the majority of companies on this planet are not digital natives. They are grounded in business models that have not quite gone obsolete. And the more that the products and services they offer are based on physical goods and shipments, and the more complex the interactions between demand and supply become, the more important the human element is to the success of their digital transformation.

An interesting take on digital transformation

I think Michael Krigsman, founder of CXOTalk, captured this fact quite well in a recent article by Ron Miller of TechCrunch, “Digital Transformation Requires Total Organizational Commitment.”

According to Krigsman:

[T]he executive suite has to have a clear plan for the future, and a way to put the company on the road toward delivering on that vision. They can’t hide the innovation team in the basement. They need to inject innovative thinking into every process in the organization and that requires reconsidering every process.

You can find Michael’s very interesting take on digital transformation here.

Being in charge of Solution Marketing of SAP’s enterprise social collaboration platform, SAP Jam, I found Michael’s opinion on digital transformation fascinating. I was specifically intrigued by slide 38 in his presentation, which is titled “Digital CIO Mindset.”

CIO Mindset.png

In the row about culture (an often overlooked element in any transformation discussion), he elaborated that the mindset has to change from a hierarchical approach to a collaborative approach.

Furthermore, I could not agree more with this statement from the aforementioned TechCrunch article:

“The successful executives are able to embrace change. This is a very key point and it’s really the most difficult thing about this. With the exception of startups, every company has an established business model and way they do business. Product lines, services, and employees have been optimized for standard processes.

So what is my take on this? I am glad you asked.

Using SAP Jam to drive digital transformation

I feel that SAP Jam can be a key success factor for companies embarking on their digital transformation journeys. This is specifically the case with the latest edition of SAP Jam, which was specifically optimized to enhance the enterprise-wide, continuous process of “social learning,” or the peer-to-peer engagement of experts across the enterprise to streamline the creation and dissemination of expertise.

Here are some specific arguments, across different lines of business, why every enterprise might want to consider deploying SAP Jam to drive their transformation forward at an accelerated pace. Enterprise social collaboration can:

  • Help with the innovation of business processes by making it easier for people to engage, find gaps in existing processes, deal with exceptions, and create and effectively disseminate information
  • Support faster onboarding of new employees needed to kick-start new digital business processes
  • Expand the learning process beyond the classic procedural learning management systems, adding “learning on the job” as a crucial dimension to bring speed and agility to the organization
  • Accelerate the creation of new best-practice-based learning content as the organization becomes more and more “digital” and the need for agility rises

I am sure we could develop a number of other angles and benefits once we apply the benefits of enterprise social collaboration to your specific use case. But this is a blog, not a marketing brochure, so let me summarize my take on this in three key points:

  1. Digital transformation is not just about technology. Technology is necessary, but not sufficient.
  2. Digital transformation requires total organizational commitment. You can’t hide the innovation team in the basement.
  3. Digital transformation requires product lines, services, and employees to move beyond standard business processes.

Empowering the human element of the digital revolution

SAP Jam is a proven platform for enterprise social collaboration. Its whole raison d’être, its purpose and destination, however, is not about technology, features, and platforms. It’s about people. It’s about understanding how people create and engage. It’s about how people drive and differentiate business. It’s about amplifying the power of intuition, ingenuity, spontaneity, creativity, and empathy as key elements of the success of the IT road map. It’s about adding more and more relevant work patterns that combine proven business processes and information sources with the right experts to enhance and extend the process though human engagement.

SAP Jam is connecting people, not just in the network of people inside and outside your organization, but to the relevant context of business processes, machines, applications, information sources, and the emerging network of things that ultimately forms the fabric and texture of your digital transformation.

So, ultimately, SAP Jam is about “empowering the human element of the digital revolution.”

As you embark on your digital journey, don’t leave home without it.

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      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      It seems that there is a movement to embrace a new shift in thinking about how work process and collaboration are really parts of the same over all animal...of conducting sequential and parallel business actions invoked by human agents and by systems to the beat of the rhythm of getting projects completed under time and on budget....without incurring stress on the part of the human agents participating as temporary cogs in this process.

      As the inventor of the Action Oriented Workflow (AOW) paradigm it is a motivation to see more enterprise software companies thinking along these lines. The last year has seen the emergence of plays along these lines in the form of Slack and Hipchat which building on the approaches of earlier companies like Yammer and Chatter are starting to see the light of integrating work into collaboration.

      When I started working on the AOW paradigm in 2003....I knew that the world would eventually bend to the arc of this philosophy...ultimately it required a deep integration of the normally separated aspects of development involving security, authorization for performing actions against critical business objects and then critically surfacing all those actions into a real time collaborative timeline.

      The validation slowly being given to the approach by products like SAP Jam is a testament to the large opportunity that yet remains to be exploited in bringing this type of synergy to all types of businesses.

      Enabling what I've called hyper efficient business in some of my articles on the wider subject of what I called "workforce emancipation" several years ago.


      sent2null space: AgilEntity Architecture: Action Oriented Workflow

      Author's profile photo Christian Horak
      Christian Horak
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for the comment David. Indeed, it is in the are of HCM where we have seen the most rapid adoption of enterprise social solutions to foster engagement, agility and continuous learning. Like you say, there seems to be a realization that applications are one side of the coin, the fluid and continuous engagement of networks of people beyond automation being the other side. I think that your AOW ideas are really spot on and much needed to reach the potential of the next big thing: The internet of "thinking things"