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To digitally transform, think like Clive Davis

Cognizant

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By: Ben Pring

If you’re a music fan, you probably know the name Clive Davis. If you’re not though – and heaven help you – Clive Davis is one of the most successful music producers and record industry executives of all time. He’s worked with a who’s who of rock and pop musicians, from Janis Joplin to Rod Stewart to Whitney Houston, over the last 50 years. Now 85, he’s still in the game as the chief creative officer of Sony Music Entertainment. By any measure of success and longevity in what is, after all, an extremely precarious and fickle business, Davis has earned his place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

What, you may be wondering though, does the archetypal A&R man have to do with “digital transformation?” Well, let me explain …

The “digital” alarm bell has been going off (literally and figuratively) now for over 20 years. The transition to the cloud, the slow decline of ERP, the rise of Google and Apple and Amazon, the primacy of “consumer IT,” the move to Agile and containers, the awakening to the power of data, the importance of design thinking – none of these are new. And yet, in the second half of 2017, many, many organizations still struggle to master them, let alone leverage them, to thrive in markets changing all around them faster than ever.

Related: Designing Manufacturing’s Digital Future

The question is, why? In my humble opinion, it’s because the executives running these organizations don’t think like Clive Davis.

It’s Not About You

Clive Davis’s success can be attributed, in no small measure, to his ability to separate his own personal tastes from those of the market. As an octogenarian, Davis probably favors Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett when he’s doing the dishes or mowing the lawn (as if). But when he’s working, he’s listening like an 18-year-old and can hear the magic in Lil Uzi Vert or Rex Orange County – music that to his contemporaries must sound like the aural equivalent of a dislocated shoulder. Or at least the decline and fall of Western civilization.

Davis recognizes that he is not the target audience, that the music is not aimed at him and has nothing to say to him. He knows he wouldn’t buy the music. But yet, he can still make judgments about its quality and its commercial appeal. And he can do this precisely because he knows the music isn’t being made for him.

[Download]: Designing Manufacturing’s Digital Future

This is the mistake that is hampering so many executives in so many businesses facing the onslaught of change being rendered by digital technology. They don’t personally like the new generation of technology and technology mediated solutions, and they don’t appreciate that the new technology/solutions aren’t aimed at them.

Twitter is ridiculous. Facebook is for egotistical blowhards. What even is Snap? Why do my kids spend so much time on it? Social media is destroying a generation. We can’t do this transaction online because of the threat of hackers. Pokémon Go? Give me a break. Virtual reality? What are these guys on? The cloud? But we’ve got a data center. Monetize our customer’s data? Why? Isn’t that illegal? How does this Slack thing even work? What’s wrong with e-mail?

How to Love What You Don’t Love

To the average 50-year-old, running an insurance company, a bank, an airline, a retailer, contemporary technology, contemporary business approaches and contemporary norms are the commercial equivalent of Lil Uzi Vert – terrible, ugly, ridiculous, not nearly as good as the things we listened to, aka, the technology solutions we built and used.

These executives fail to see they are not the target audience. That new solutions shouldn’t be built for their contemporaries but for their kids. They fail to separate their own personal tastes from the tastes of where the market is going.

Doing this – separating your own personal judgments from those of the market – is terribly hard (hence why so few executives can do it). It’s tough for people who have ascended slippery career ladders to admit they don’t know something. It’s tough for them to even contemplate that they are “aging out,” that they are no longer “hip to the hop,” in touch, on fleek. But mostly, it’s hard to admit – privately to yourself, let alone publically to your staff/boss/board – that you’re no longer that interested in something and that you don’t really like X or Y.

[Download]: Designing Manufacturing’s Digital Future

To truly grasp the promise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, you’ve got to really love it, and everything about it. Or, if you can’t, you’ve got to surround yourself with people who do. In Clive Davis’s case, this means A&R people who trawl the clubs and SoundCloud and YouTube and Spotify and SXSW. In your case, it could be a youth mentor or a digital whisperer you trust in the industry.

So next time you’re in a meeting with your team trying to inch forward with your digital transformation initiative, remember to think like Clive Davis. It’s not about you – it’s about the next generation and the stupid things they’re interested in. Play your Sinatra or Costello or Counting Crows tunes all you like at home. But don’t pretend that, now that you have the turntable (aka the digital transformation budget), the kids are going to dig what you all say. They ain’t lit with that.

This article originally appeared on the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work site.

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Manufacturing

Don’t forget the human factor in IoT’s service intelligence equation

Overlooking the human element of IoT can leave money on the table.

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Automation is a powerful lure for businesses investing in the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart devices feeding real-time data to algorithms can find hidden problems, identify efficiencies and circumvent human error. In short, smart automation can save companies a lot of money. But the IoT conversation shouldn’t focus exclusively on automation. 

Overlooking the human element of IoT can leave money on the table. Empowering employees with effective access to intelligence can improve customer service and differentiate a company from its competitors.

Case Study: Advancing Smart Manufacturing Operations Value with Industry 4.0 Platform

For Phanibhushan Sistu, good service intelligence relies on a robust data infrastructure for employees. Sistu is AVP of engineering and IOT solutions at Cognizant. He says that while many companies have already invested in connected devices, “not all of that information is available to the person who is going to a location from the service point of view.”

To illustrate his point, Sistu uses a telecommunications provider as an example of what’s possible. 

This type of business often relies on a fleet of full-time and contracted service technicians who prioritize a daily list of house calls. A pre-IoT business may provide these technicians with a description of a problem as called-in by the customer, but little else. Diagnosis doesn’t really start until the truck pulls up, and anyone who’s heard “I don’t have the right part for this” knows the flaws in this system.

“Their front-end employees cover multiple locations, which comes with a cost,” Sistu says. 

“Somebody goes in to fix a problem or install something, then doesn’t learn until they arrive that they don’t have the right equipment or that a problem was misdiagnosed.”  

[Download]: Real Estate Manager Goes Digital

A modern telco with properly managed data can track how customers are using their hardware, index common complaints and analyze how its different hardware products perform. Put into the hands of front-line staff, this becomes a competitive advantage.

A connected employee can “dynamically manage situations as they change,” Sistu says. Smart data can tell service techs whether other customers in an area have had similar complaints or how a customer’s usage might have affected the product. Even seeing other technicians nearby through real-time tracking can make getting parts easier. By bringing the right diagnostic tools and replacement components, service calls can be resolved faster and more effectively.

[Download]: A New Approach to PLM

And accessible data infrastructure can do more than save costs, Susti says. It can also be a revenue generator. 

“Maybe as an enterprise, I have different levels of services I provide — diamond, gold, platinum or whatever. On the fly, I may decide to redirect my technician to attend to a diamond customer because my [service-level agreement] for them is more rigorous. It’s about dynamic planning, dynamic optimization.”

Of course, Sistu says these principles extend to a wide range of business sectors that have front-line staff dealing with customers post-purchase — from manufacturing to medicine. 

Now that IoT has extended customer success management further beyond the date of purchase, companies must ask how customers are experiencing a product’s “life service.” With proper data infrastructure, long-term service agreements can shift from cost centres to selling points.

“I believe this kind of experience always commands some premium,” Sistu says. “People probably don’t mind paying a few extra pennies or dollars for a better experience.”

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5G investment key to untethering IoT intelligence for manufacturers

5G’s lighting-fast speeds will reshape consumer expectations for entertainment, shopping and social connectivity.

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Manufacturers are starting to understand just how much business intelligence is possible with the Internet of Things: Connected devices streaming reams of valuable data to algorithms that, in turn, learn how to spot trouble before it happens. Every step of the process — from manufacturing to product service — can benefit from smart devices communicating in real-time.

But even businesses using the fastest 4G networks are starting to question that oft-used term: “real-time.” 

Case Study: Advancing Smart Manufacturing Operations Value with Industry 4.0 Platform

4G can support approximately 2,000 devices per square kilometer, and as mobile devices proliferate those boundaries are under stress.

But there are promising solutions on the horizon. The cutting edge, often-hyped 5G network tech currently being rolled out and tested by global telcos is poised to become essential to leveraging business intelligence. 

Its technical details are complex, but 5G is, simply put, faster and better. It’s projected to support one million devices per square kilometer. Downlink speeds are spec’d at 20Gbps, and latency (how long it takes data to travel from A to B through a network) is expected to max out at four milliseconds versus 4G’s 20 milliseconds. 

[Download]: Real Estate Manager Goes Digital

Even though widespread 5G connectivity is still a few years away, Sharath Prasad says many manufacturers are trying to gauge their investment in the space. As Cognizant’s connected products portfolio lead, Prasad says “the pervasiveness of 5G, the cost of 5G and its adoption rates can all drive operational intelligence.”

Vivek Diwanji, senior director of technology at Cognizant, says this shortened latency is the real potential benefit to IoT-enabled businesses. “5G and edge devices are where the overall story is going to change in terms of the way data will be consumed, analyzed and leveraged,” he said.

So what does this mean for manufacturers? A number of things:

If a connected manufacturing device senses a problem on the line, for example, getting shut-down instructions in four milliseconds instead of 20 could save thousands of dollars in faulty product coming through the pipeline. 

The value of IoT doesn’t always end inside the factory walls. Once some connected products leave the factory — an automobile for example — and deploy into the field, 5G connectivity can feed product engineering teams with more data and insight on how a product functions on the — traditionally — dark side of the moon.

The list of benefits of 5G is long.

“I think that’s going to be the bigger impact of 5G overall,” says Diwanji, “not only as a backbone for infrastructure, but from the overall customer experience standpoint.”

[Download]: A New Approach to PLM

Relying on telcos to deploy 5G at scale may be a waiting game, but manufacturers can also outfit their own facilities with 5G networks to reap benefits today.

Prasad says groups such as CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) are working to expand 5G capabilities into existing mobile network technology thanks to recently released radio spectrum

With some hardware investment, he says manufacturers can set up their own 5G-based network using the CBRS’s framework and “actually do away with dependence on a carrier … Even if factories are located in remote areas without reliable wireless connectivity, they can actually set-up a CBRS-based 5G network just to cover their factory and provide good quality connectivity there without having to shell out a huge cost to carriers.”

5G’s lighting-fast speeds will reshape consumer expectations for entertainment, shopping and social connectivity. So too will it reshape the business sector. In a world where one company’s “big data” intelligence is pit against another’s, speed will define market leadership. 

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Seeing robots and digital advancements through someone else’s eyes

When they run the highlight reel of my greatest dad moments, this weekend’s dinner conversation with my kids will definitely be left out.

Cognizant

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By Randal Kenworthy

When they run the highlight reel of my greatest dad moments, this weekend’s dinner conversation with my kids will definitely be left out – the look of terror in their eyes, the curious and confused look of my wife that said it all: “What are you thinking?!”  At that moment, I realized the future of robots, AI and the latest digital technology can be a scary concept – if poorly explained.

It started nicely enough, talking about how Mother Nature and natural selection are things of beauty. But I strayed a little off topic when I explained that in the not-so-distant future, parents could apply emerging technologies to design their babies – and that this was not necessarily a good thing.  When asked why, I described a future where all babies were basically all programmed preconception, and eventually we would all look like engineered humans – not unlike robots.  That’s when the tears started.

My 10-year-old daughter provided me with an escape hatch when she asked, “Are we all going to become robots?” At that point, I channeled my inner Malcolm Frank (a top Cognizant exec and co-author of Code Halos and What to Do When Machines Do Everything) to help address her fear.  I explained that robots were actually a good thing – that they weren’t going to actually replace us but rather supplement our day-to-day activities.  We talked about examples like autonomous cars.  She built on my point that not only will self-driving cars enable us to do higher-value activities but they’ll also make driving a lot safer.

[Read more: The State of the Union for IoT Intelligence]

Personalizing the Pursuit of Digitally-Enabled Productivity

This dinnertime exchange sums up what those of us at the intersection of business and technology deal with every day, whether we know it or not. Because not everyone is comfortable with advances in digital technologies, it’s essential to explain the value of technology in personal terms.  The work we do is often complicated and technical, but when you peek under the covers at the value organizations are achieving, even a 10-year-old would nod in approval.

By telling compelling stories about demonstrated business results, our industry can make the latest digital tools and techniques a lot less scary for the people who need to invest in and implement them. Consider:

  • Product intelligence: By integrating data and applying intelligent algorithms, we helped a multinational consumer goods company create a 360-degree, omnichannel product view.  Doing so helped increase customer conversations by 15%, significantly improve customer satisfaction and boost agility of global product launches by 40%.
  • Connected factories: We also worked with a global pharmaceutical company to build a predictive maintenance model for its distributed and connected manufacturing plants. This capability harmonized processes across multiple systems and provided visibility into potential process interruptions. By reducing downtime, the business realized a 20% increase in throughput while increasing safety, enabling patients to get their medications more quickly.
  • Intelligent process automation: We used machine learning models to help a global insurance provider expedite its worker’s compensation claims process. The solution determines bodily injury information with 90% accuracy, aided by human validation. It’s also integrated with existing robotic process automation (RPA) tools to navigate multiple mainframe and web applications and apply hundreds of business rules to enable timely and accurate registration of claims. The business has achieved greater claims accuracy and accelerated claims processing, enabling workers to get the money they need to achieve a speedy recovery and return to work, which improves productivity.

[Download]: Advancing Smart Manufacturing Operations Value with Industry 4.0

The ABCs of Clear Communication

We can all benefit from remembering some basic talking points when we engage in discussions about AI, machine learning and other digital technologies – whether it’s with our business peers and colleagues or our families. In short:

  • Keep it simple: Speak in plain terms.
  • Tell stories: Use examples and stories to explain a topic and gain alignment.
  • Stay practical: Business people often talk about technology in mythical proportions. Be pragmatic about what technology can do; avoid pie-in-the sky illustrations.
  • Don’t assume: This is a two-way street. Your own assumptions may need validation, and don’t assume your listener knows what DevOps means.
  • Repeat as needed: Technology can be complex, so repetition can help ensure that complex concepts are truly understood.
  • Break down an explanation: The human mind can better understand when information is provided in manageable, logical buckets. Minto’s Pyramid Principle is built on the concept of chunking information in manageable pieces.  The same applies here.  Take a message and break it into logical components.

With all that AI and other digital technologies have to offer, it’s essential for those with insights into its potential to diminish the fear, uncertainty and doubt that often accompanies the topic – rather than inadvertently emphasizing it. Believe me – that’s what I’ll remember the next time I bring up current events at the dinner table.

[Download]: Designing Manufacturing’s Digital Future

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