AiThority Interview with Matt Schwartz, Global SAP Practice Leader at IBM
Please tell us about your role and the team / technology you handle at IBM.
I lead IBM’s global SAP practice and am responsible for providing our clients with the market’s most holistic, transformational offerings for their SAP needs. My team and I work with clients to design, transform, implement and run set of experiences that touch everything from the user to infrastructure. Our SAP practice offerings enable delivery of hybrid cloud, AI and good tech to IBM’s clients.
Tell us about your recent offerings with SAP.
We’ve collaborated with SAP on new solutions to help our clients in every industry around the world become intelligent enterprises and emerge stronger post-pandemic. This is building on the industry offerings that we introduced early in the pandemic. These solutions help our clients navigate uncertainty by reinventing their core business processes into intelligent workflows with the help of technologies like AI and automation. They drive faster business transformation time to value and leverage data to make more informed decisions. The new solutions include:
– Intelligent Industry Cloud Solutions for Industrial Manufacturing leverages AI and analytics to help industrial manufacturers reinvent workflow processes, increase win rates and enhance productivity and customer satisfaction while they navigate changing global market requirements and expectations. Intelligent workflows are provided in the lead to order, plan to manufacture, order to cash and maintain to resolve process areas.
– Cognitive Care for SAP Utilities, which is integrated with SAP Customer Experience and SAP S/4HANA to help utilities address new customer demands. By embedding machine learning, conversational AI and automation, this enhances chat capabilities on the customer’s channel of choice and enables customer service agents to answer questions faster and provide valuable services. A set of industry specific algorithms provide next best action recommendations for call center representatives to recommend offers, identify collection risks and find candidates for energy conservation programs.
– Continuous Intelligent Planning helps companies better deal with supply chain disruptions – even in unforeseen events like COVID-19 – by augmenting SAP’s planning capabilities in Integrated Business Planning for better forecasting and demand sensing to help better predict short-term demand for their goods or services.
– IBM Accelerated Move Center, a next generation best practices migration factory designed to give clients more predictability on their path to SAP S/4HANA. This offering addresses the brownfield migration requirement we see by many mid-market companies and divisions of larger companies. It can help reduce prep and project timelines, maintenance team effort and system down time. We’ve already seen strong momentum with clients in markets like Europe and India.
And we’ll continue to co-create with SAP and enhance our solutions as businesses continue to operate in this new normal, complementing our collaboration on cloud and RISE with SAP. Over the next year, we’re looking to release three to five cross-industry and industry offerings each quarter — the next being in the retail and defense sectors that provide our clients with greater flexibility for hybrid cloud solutions.
What kind of challenges are industrial manufacturing companies facing in the pandemic? How does your connected offerings enable companies to overcome these challenges?
Over the last decade, new business models, like products to services transformation and outcome-based contracts have emerged for industrial manufacturing companies. These business models rely on data from existing applications yet must implement smart processes that span from end-to-end across their business functions. The adoption of these models has been accelerated over the last year during the pandemic because of the changing global market requirements and expectations. To help address this, we collaborated with leading industrial manufacturing companies to create and build out capabilities for intelligent workflow offerings on SAP’s intelligent suite with industry cloud solutions focused on lead-to-order, plan-to-manufacture, order-to-cash and maintain-to-resolve business processes. This has been designed to help these industrial manufacturers reinvent their workflows, increase win rates, as well as enhance productivity and customer satisfaction. Integrating AI and analytics in areas like quotation, pricing, visual inspection and the connected plant are growing business needs for industrial manufacturing companies. The intelligent workflow design integration leveraging SAP Workflow Management allows for API based orchestration, business process management and optimization.
Tell us how AI and Automation have helped businesses scale their operations during the pandemic?
To cope over the last year, businesses have had to transform the way they operate – from their supply chain to how they communicate, working overtime to meet the dynamic needs of customers while ensuring employees are productive and safe. Demand for AI and automation – what we call intelligent automation – has increased as businesses seek ways to quickly improve efficiencies and gain more data-driven insights of back-office and customer-facing operations. In fact, more than half of executives plan to increase AI investments in the next three years, while 44 percent will increase robotics investments. This allows businesses to act rather than react in an unsettled environment and to scale sustainably.
We already know the damage that security breaches can have on business reputation. What kind of data management framework do you offer to customers to secure IT resources? What has been your collaboration with SAP with regard to security?
Our approach to data protection is based on multi-layer coverage, following the natural sequence of access to the data. This includes:
– Access Management: Through the definition of the SAP Roles & Authorizations following the least-privilege access, ensuring segregation of duties in user/role management, and in role provisioning to users, or even implementing a dynamic authorization model.
– Data Access Register: By the implementation of solutions that allow the creation of rules that record the access to the SAP tables and fields that have been defined as critical because of the information contained.
– Data Masking: Depending on protection requirements implementation of data masking at UI level or even a database level.
– Data Encryption: At different levels; at-rest, but also in-transit, for those data that have been tagged as very sensitive.
– Automated SAP Logs analysis: For a detective analysis of the most relevant application logs (Security Audit Log, Business Transaction Log, User Change Log and Change Document Log) to identify actions performed to gain access to sensitive data.
In addition, we have initiatives that can be implemented for a full control of secure access to data:
– Data Scrambling: For ensuring that sensitive data are not copied in-clear in non-productive environments (where permissions are typically broader) because of the periodic refresh of its content.
– Data Loss Prevention: By implementing solutions that allow the creation of rules that record the massive access/download of data and attachments that are considered sensitive.
– Dynamic Security: By implementing solutions that allow data tagging to apply different security protection levels depending on the transit of data across the SAP landscape.
All our security protection initiatives are defined in the context of relevant security frameworks, including Zero Trust and NIST, Secure Operations Map (in the context of the SAP domain) and the IBM framework.
As part of our SAP partnership, we implement all security products in the SAP portfolio, the SAP Solution Extensions, as well as other certified and endorsed SAP applications like Pathlock, NextLabs, and Onapsis.
Tell us more about Cognitive Care and how it improved CX offering for the customers?
The pandemic has had a direct impact on customer service, as industries have had to take a step back and reevaluate how digital technology and applications can be used to meet new customer demands. For the utilities industries, COVID-19 has driven high customer call volumes to contact centers. Many utilities are also struggling with call center work-from-home options and have limited capabilities to serve customers through digital channels. We’ve identified the opportunity for utilities to adopt a more efficient approach to their customer service and ultimately, reinvent how business gets done.
The Cognitive Care for SAP Utilities solution, integrated with SAP Customer Experience and SAP S/4HANA, helps utilities meet the demand and requirements for inbound and outbound customer communication. It can transform the customer service experience into an intelligent workflow with embedded machine learning, conversational AI and automation. This enhances chat capabilities on the customer’s channel of choice, and We’ve embedded Watson Assistant and Watson Discovery into SAP Service Cloud – configuring it to answer questions asked by utility customers to the customer service representatives, and search for documents that can provide answers or instructions while the conversation is happening. This enables customer service agents to answer questions faster, and provide valuable services. The solution also leverages SAP Qualtrics for “lifestyle data” through surveys, which is integrated into machine learning models to identify the customers’ level of green advocacy.
Please tell us your predictions for the future of Cloud-based operations?
The pandemic has forever altered how organizations around the world operate. In a recent IBM Institute of Business Value (IBV) study, we found that 64 percent of C-suite executives surveyed plan to shift to a more cloud-based business model over the next two years to support their expanded distributed computing environments. Businesses need to take action to improve their operational scalability and flexibility, including the prioritized use of the hybrid cloud and moving more business functions to the cloud. We believe our strong IBM cloud offerings, our partnerships with the hyperscalers and our preferred SI status with the SAP RISE offering will allow us to best support our customers on their cloud journeys.
Thank you, Matt! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
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Matt Schwartz is a Global SAP Practice Leader at IBM
IBM is a leading cloud platform and cognitive solutions company. Restlessly reinventing since 1911, we are the largest technology and consulting employer in the world, with more than 350,000 employees serving clients in 170 countries. With Watson, the AI platform for business, powered by data, we are building industry-based solutions to real-world problems. For more than seven decades, IBM Research has defined the future of information technology with more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents.