Emerging technology like AI and machine learning, despite its hype, often faces tough questions on its ability to produce business outcomes.

However, three clear areas have already emerged for translating new technology into measurable results, according to Timo Elliott, SAP VP and global innovation evangelist.

Following his presentation at the 2019 Gartner Data and Analytics Summit in Sydney, Timo outlined the emerging technology opportunities for organisations today and how SAP had used them.

1. Customer Experience

The clear goal now for many organisations is optimising each customer touchpoint as part of an overall experience. It is a task that essentially relies on data collation and analysis and can be greatly improved with machine learning and artificial intelligence, according to Elliott.

The technology is used in SAP’s C/4HANA product and has been buoyed by the enterprise software giant’s $8 billion acquisition of Qualtrics, a firm specialising in experience data.

“This is a new area for us but it combines the old data — the operational data about what’s going on — with the experience data — the subjective feeling of customers — and allows people to take a much more proactive approach.”

2. Productivity

Machine learning is also allowing SAP to do more with less, Elliott said.

“Investing in the customer experience requires money. The good news is new technologies, especially machine learning, allow us to do a lot more with our existing resources.”

With a long pedigree of helping organisations optimise processes SAP is finding new ways to automate.

“We know where to find those complex, repetitive decisions that can now be automated with machine learning … We’re building it into absolutely everything we do.”

The impact is increased by the quality of data SAP utilises — often the main barrier to entry for others, according to Elliott.

3. Workforce engagement

When digital transformation falters it’s not often because of the technology, Elliott said.

“Technology is complicated, and it goes wrong, but when things really fail it’s because of people and culture and process and organisation.”

Machine learning has now been integrated into SAP’s human resources tool, SuccessFactors, to analyse data and processes. For example, the technology can be used to make personalised training recommendations, based on the particular profile of the employee.

Ultimately, Elliott says, it can help align employee needs with the transformational goals of the company.

About this author

Joseph Brookes is a writer for the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit, of which SAP is a corporate member. Our members provide their insights and expertise for the benefit of the Which-50 community. Membership fees apply.

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