Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How Data-Driven Business Networks Help Close the Digital Transformation Gap

Transcript of a discussion on how intelligence gleaned from business applications, data, and networks provides the best new hope for closing the digital transformation gap at many companies.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.

Dana Gardner: Hi, this is Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, and you’re listening to BriefingsDirect.

Our next thought leadership discussion explores how intelligence gleaned from business applications, data, and networks provides the best new hope for closing the digital transformation gap at many companies.

A recent global survey of procurement officers shows a major gap between where companies are and where they want to be when it comes to digital transformation. While 82 percent surveyed see digital transformation as having a major impact on processes -- only five percent so far see significant automation across their processes.

How can business networks and the cloud-based applications underlying them better help companies reach a more strategic level of business intelligence and automation?

To learn, we're now joined by Darren Koch, Chief Product Officer at SAP Ariba. Welcome to BriefingsDirect, Darren.

Darren Koch: Thanks so much, it's great to be here.

Gardner: What's holding companies back when it comes to becoming more strategic in their processes? They don’t seem to be able to leverage intelligence and automation to allow people to rise to a higher breed of productivity.

Koch: I think a lot of it is inertia. The ingrained systems and processes that exist at companies impact a lot of people. The ability for those companies to run their core operations relies on people and technology working together. The change management required by our customers as they deploy solutions -- particularly in the move from on-premises to the cloud -- is a major inhibitor.

But it's not just the capabilities and the change in the new technology. It's really re-looking at -- and reimagining -- the processes, the things that existed in the highly customized on-premises world, and the way those things change in a digital-centric cloud world. They are fundamentally different. 

Gardner: It's always hard to change behavior. It seems like you have to give people a huge incentive to move past that inertia. Maybe that's what we are all thinking about when we bring new data analytics capabilities to bear. Is that what you looking at, incentivization -- or how do we get that gap closed?

Reimagining change in the cloud

Koch: You are seeing more thought leadership on the executive side. You are seeing companies more willing to look holistically at their processes and saying, “Is this something that truly differentiates my company and adds sustainable competitive advantage?” And the answer on some processes is, “No."

And so, we see more moving away from the complex, on-premises deployments that were built in a world where a truckload of consultants would show up and configure your software to do exactly what you wanted. Instead, we’re moving to a data-centric best-practices type of world that gives scale, where everybody operates in the same general business fabric. You see the emergence of things like business networks.

Gardner: And why the procurement and supply chain management folks? Why are they in an advantageous position to leverage these holistic benefits, and then evangelize them?

Koch: There's been a ton of talk and innovation on the selling side, on the customer resource management (CRM) side, such as our announcement of C/4HANA at Sapphire 2018 and the success in the cloud generally in the CRM space. What most people stop at is, for every seller there's a buyer. We represent the buy-side, the supply chain, the purchasing departments. And now from that buy-side we have the opportunity to follow the same thought processes on the sell-side.

The beauty at SAP Ariba is that we have the world's biggest business network. We have over $2 trillion of buy-side spend and our ability to take that spend and find real insights and real actionable change to drive value at the intersection of buyers and sellers. This is where we’re headed.

Gardner: It seems like we are moving rapidly beyond the buy and sell being just transactional and moving more to deeper partnerships, visibility, of understanding the processes on both sides of the equation. That can then bring about a whole greater than the sum of the parts.

Understanding partners 

Koch: Exactly. I spent 10 years working in the consumer travel space, and my team in particular was working on how consumers choose hotels. It's a very complex purchasing decision.

There are location aspects, there are quality aspects, there are amenities, room size, obviously price, and there are a lot of non-price actors that go into the purchase decision, too. When you look at what a procurement audience is doing, what a company is doing, there are a lot of such non-price factors. It’s exactly the same problem.

The investments that we are making inside of SAP Ariba get at allowing you to see things like supplier risk. You are seeing things like the Ariba Network handling direct materials. You are seeing time, quality, and risk factors -- and these other non-price dimensions -- coming in, in the same way that consumers do when choosing a hotel. Nobody chooses the cheapest one, or very few people do. Usually it’s a proper balance of all of these factors and how they best meet the total needs. We are seeing the same thing on the business procurement side.
When you look at what a procurement audience is doing, what a company is doing, there are now a lot of non-price factors.

Gardner: As consumers we have information at our fingertips -- so we can be savvy and smart – probably better than at any other time in history. But that doesn’t always translate to a larger business-to-business (B2B) decisions.

What sort of insights do you think businesses will want when it comes that broader visibility?

Koch: It starts with the basics. It starts with, “How do I know my suppliers? How do I add scale? Is this supplier General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)-compliant? Do they have slavery or forced labor in their supply chain? Where are they sourcing their materials?” All of these aspects around supplier risk are the basics; knowing your supplier well is the basic element.

Then when you go beyond that, it's about things like, “Well how do I weigh geographic risk? How do I weigh supply chain risk?” And all the things that the practitioners of those disciplines have been screaming about for the rest of their companies to pay attention to.

That’s the new value they are providing. It's that progression and looking at the huge opportunity to see the way companies collaborate and share data strategically to drive efficiency into processes. That can drive efficiency ultimately into the whole value chain that leads to a better customer experience at the end.

Gardner: Customer experience is so important across the board. It must be a big challenge for you on the product side to be able to contextually bring the right information and options to the end-user at the right time. Otherwise they are overwhelmed, or they don't get the benefit of what the technology and the business networks can do.

What are you doing at SAP Ariba to help bring that right decision-making -- almost anticipating where the user needs to go -- into the actual applications and services?

Intelligent enterprise

Koch: That begins with our investments in re-platforming to SAP HANA. That feeds into the broader story about the intelligent enterprise. Purchasing is one facet, supply-chain management is a facet, sales is a facet, and production -- all of these components are elements of a broader story of how you synthesize data into a means where you have a digital twin of the whole enterprise.

Then you can start doing things like leveraging the in-memory capabilities of HANA around scenario planning, and around, “What are the implications of making this decision?”

What happens when a hurricane hits Puerto Rico and your supply chain is dramatically disrupted? Does that extend to my suppliers’ suppliers?  Who are my people on the ground there, and how are they disrupted? How should my business respond in an intelligent way to these world events that happen all the time?

Gardner: We have talked about the intelligent enterprise. Let's hypothetically say that when one or two -- or a dozen -- enterprises become intelligent that they gain certain advantages, which compels the rest of their marketplace to follow suit.

When we get to the point where we have a critical mass of intelligent enterprises, how does that elevate to an intelligent economy? What can we do when everyone is behaving with this insight, of having tools like SAP Ariba at their disposal?

Koch: You hit on a really valuable and important point. Way back, I was an economics major and there was a core thing that I took away 20 years ago from my intro to macroeconomics class. The core of it was that everything is either value or waste. Every bit of effort, everything that's produced around the world, all goods or services are either valuable or a waste. There is nothing in between.

The question then as we look at value chains, when we look at these webs of value, is how much of that is transaction cost? How much of that is information asymmetry? How much of that is basic barriers that get in the way of ultimately providing value to the end consumer? Where is all of that waste?

When you look at complex value chains, at all of the inventory sitting in warehouses, the things that go unsold, the mismatches between supply and demand across a value chain -- whether you are talking about direct materials or about pens and paper sitting in a supply closet -- it really doesn't matter.
When you look at complex value chains ... how much of that goes into actually delivering on what your customers and employees value -- and how much of it is waste?

It’s all about how much of that goes to actually delivering on what your customers, your employees, and your stakeholders’ value -- and how much of it is waste? As we link these data sets together -- the real production planning, understanding end-user demand, and all the way back through the supply chain – we can develop new transparency that brings a ton of value. And by ultimately everyone in the value chain understanding what the consumers’ actually value, then they can innovate in the right ways.

So, I see this all dramatically changing as you link these intelligent companies together. As companies move in the same way -- into a sharing mindset – then the sharing economy uses resources in a far more efficient way, in the exact same way as we use our data resources in a more efficient way.

Gardner: This also dovetails well with being purposeful as a business. If many organizations are encouraging higher productivity, which reduces inefficiencies and helps raise wages, it can lead to better standards of life. So, the stakes here are pretty high.

We’re not just talking about adding some dollars to the bottom and top lines. We’re also talking about a better economy that raises all boats.

Purposeful interconnections 

Koch: Yes, absolutely. You see companies like Johnson and Johnson, who at their core, from their founding principles, have the importance of their community as one of the core founding principles. You see it in companies like Ford and their long heritage. Those ideals are really coming back from the decade of the 1980s where greed was good and now back to a more holistic understanding of the interconnectedness of all of this.

And it’s good as humans. It’s also good from the business perspective because of the need to attract and retain the talent required to run a modern enterprise. And building the brands that our consumers are demanding, and holding companies accountable, they all go hand-in-hand.

And so, the purpose aspect really addresses the broader stakeholder aspects of creating a sustainable planet, a sustainable business, sustainable employment, and things like that.

Gardner: When we think about attaining this level of efficiency through insights and predictive analytics -- taking advantage of business networks and applications and services -- we are also on the cusp of getting even better tools.

We’re seeing a lot more information about machine learning (ML). We’re starting to tease out the benefits of artificial intelligence (AI). When these technologies are maturing and available, you need to be in a position to take advantage of them.

So, moving toward the intelligent enterprise and digital transformation are not just good or nice to have, they are essential because of what's going to come next in just a few years.

Efficiency in the digital future 

Koch: Yes, you see this very tactically in the chief procurement officers (CPOs) that I've talked with as I've entered this role. I have yet to run across any business leader who says, “I have so many resources, I don't know what to do.” That’s not usually what I hear. Usually, it's the opposite. It’s, “I'm being asked to do more with less.”

When you look at the core of AI, and the core of ML, it’s how do you increase efficiency? And that’s whether it's all the way on the full process automation side, or it’s along the spectrum of bringing the right intelligence and insights to streamline processes to make better decisions.

All of that is an effort to up-level the work that people do, so that raises wages, it raises productivity, all of those things. We have an example inside of our team. I was meeting with the head of our customer value organization, Chris Haydon, over dinner last night.  Chris was talking about how we were applying ML to enhance our capability to onboard new customers.

And he said the work that we've done has allowed him to redeploy 80 people in his team on to higher productivity use cases. All of those people became more valuable in the company because they were working on things that were at the next level of creating new solutions and better customer experiences, instead of turning the crank in the proverbial factory of deploying software.

Gardner: I happen to personally believe that a lot of the talk about robots taking over people’s jobs is hooey. And that, in fact, what's more likely is this elevation of people to do what they can do best and uniquely. Then let the machines do what they do best and uniquely.

How is that translating both into SAP Ariba products and services, and also into the synergy between SAP and SAP Ariba?
We're just getting through a major re-platforming to S/4 HANA and that's really exciting because of HANA's maturity and scale. We're using ML algorithms and applying them.

Koch: We are at a really exciting time inside of our products and services. We're just getting through a major re-platforming to S/4 HANA, and that’s really exciting because of HANA’s maturity and scale. It’s moving beyond basic infrastructure in the way that [SAP Co-Founder] Hasso Plattner had envisioned it.

We’re really getting to the point of not replicating data. We are using the ML algorithms and applying them, building them once and applying them at large. And so, the company’s investments in HANA and in Leonardo are helping to create a toolkit of capabilities that applications like SAP Ariba can leverage. Like with any good infrastructure investment, when you have the right foundation you see scale and innovation happen quickly.

You'll see a lot more of how we leverage the data that we have both inside the company as well as across the network to drive intelligence into our process. You will just see that come through more as we move from the infrastructure foundation setting stage to building the capabilities on top of that.

Gardner: Getting back to that concept of closing the transformation gap for companies, what is it they should be thinking about when these services and technologies become available? How can they help close their own technology gap by becoming acquainted in advances and taking some initiative to best use these new tools?

Digital transformation leadership 

Koch: The companies that are forward-leading on digital transformation are the ones that made the cloud move early. The next big move for them is to tap into business networks. How can they start sharing across their value chains and drive higher efficiency? I think you'll see from that the shift from tactical procurement to strategic procurement.

The relationships need to move from transactional to a true partnership, of how do we create value together? That change involves rethinking the ways you look at data and of how you share data across value chains.

Gardner: Let’s also think about spend management conceptually. Congratulations, by the way, on your recent Gartner Magic Quadrant positioning on pay-to-procure processes. How does spend management also become more strategic?

Koch: The building blocks for spend management always come down to what is our tactical spend and where should we focus our efforts for strategic spend? Whether that is in the services area, travel, direct materials, or indirect, what customers are asking SAP for is, how do all of these pieces fit together?

What's the difference between a request for proposal (RFP) for a hotel in New York City versus an RFP for chemicals in Southeast Asia? They're both a series of business processes of selecting the right vendor that balances all of the critical dimensions: Price and everything else that makes for a good decision and that has longevity.

We see a lot of shared elements in the way you interact with your suppliers. We see a lot of shared elements in the way that you deploy applications inside of your company. We’re exploring how well the different facets of the applications can work together, how seamless the user experience is, and how well all of these tie together for all the stakeholders.

Ultimately, each element of the team, each element of the company, has a role to play. That includes the finance organization’s desire to ensure that value is being created in a way that the company can afford. It means that the shareholders, employees, management, and end-users are all on the same page.

This is the core of spend management – and the intelligent enterprise as a whole. It means being able to see everything, by bringing it all together, so the company can manage its full operations and how they create value.

Gardner: The vision is very compelling. I can certainly see where this is not going to be just a small change -- but a step-change -- in terms of how companies can benefit in productivity.

As you were alluding to earlier, architecture is destiny when it comes to making this possible. By re-architecting around, as for S/4 HANA, by taking advantage of business networks, you are well on the way to delivering this. Let’s talk about the platform changes that grease the skids toward the larger holistic benefits.

Shifting to the cloud 

Koch: It's firmly our belief that the world is moving to mega-platforms. SAP has a long history of bringing the ecosystem along, whether the ecosystem is delivering process innovation or is building capabilities on top of other capabilities embedded deeply into the products.

What we're now seeing is the shift from the on-premises world to a cloud world where it's API-first, business events driven, and where you see a decoupling of the various components. Underneath the covers it doesn't matter what technology stack things are built on. It doesn't matter how quickly they evolve. It's the assumption that we have this API contract between two different pieces of technology: An SAP Ariba piece of technology, an SAP S/4 Cloud piece of technology, or a partner ecosystem piece of technology.

For example, a company like Solenis was recently up on stage with us at Ariba Live in Amsterdam. That's one of the fastest-growing companies. They have raised a B round at $1 billion valuation. Having companies that are driving innovation like that in partnership with an SAP platform brings not just near-term value for us and our customers, it brings future-proofing. It brings extensibility when there is a specific requirement that comes in for a specific industry or geography. It provides a way a customer can differentiate. You can just plug-in.
We're now seeing the shift from on-premises to cloud where you see a decoupling of the components. It doesn't matter what the technology stack is. ... It's now about API-first business events.

[SAP business unit] Concur has been down this path for a long time. The president of SAP Ariba, Barry Padgett, actually started the initiative of opening up the Concur platform. So deep at our core -- in our roots -- we believe that networks, ecosystems, and openness will ensure that our customers get the most value out of their solutions.

Gardner: Because SAP is an early adopter of multicloud, SAP can be everywhere at the most efficient level given what the hyperscale cloud providers are providing with global reach and efficiency. This approach also allows you to service small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), for example, essentially anywhere in the world.

Tell me why this long-term vision of a hyperscale-, multicloud-supported future benefits SAP, SAP Ariba, and its customers.

A hyperscale, multicloud landscape

Koch: When you look across the landscape of the hyperscalers and you look at the pace of innovation and the level of scale that that they are able to deliver, our lead time is slashed. We can also scale up and down as required. The cloud benefits apply to speed compared to having boxes installed in data centers, as well as ease in workload variability -- whether it's test variability or our ability to run ML-training models.

The idea that we still suffer multi-month lead times to get our physical boxes installed in our data centers is something that we just can't afford. Our customers demand more.

Thankfully there are multiple solutions around the world that solve these problems while at the same time giving us things like world-class security, geographic footprints, and localized expertise. When a server fails halfway around the world and the expert is somewhere else, the hyperscalers provide a solution to that problem.

They have somebody who walks through every data center and makes sure that the routers are upgraded, and the switches and load balancers are working the way they should. They determine whether data correctly rests inside of a Chinese firewall or inside of Europe [due to compliance requirements]. They are responsible for how those systems interact.

We still need to do our investment on the applications tier and in working with our customers to handle all of the needed changes in the landscape around data and security.

But the hyperscalers give us a base-level of infrastructure so we don't need to think about things like, “Is our air conditioner capacity inside of the data center sufficient to run the latest technology for the computing power?” We don't worry about that. We worry about delivering value on top of that base-level of infrastructure and so that takes our applications to the next level.

In the same way we were talking earlier about ML and AI freeing up our resources to work on higher-value things, [the multicloud approach] allows us to stop thinking about these base-level things that are still critical for the delivery of our service. It allows us to focus on the innovation aspects of what we need to do.

Gardner: It really is about driving value higher and higher and then making use of that in a way that's a most impactful to the consumers -- and ultimately the whole economy.

I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it there. You have been listening to a sponsored BriefingsDirect discussion on how the providers of business solutions and networks are doing more to help companies reach a strategic level of business intelligence and automation.

And we have learned how such business functions as procurement and supply chain management are providing a newfound wellspring from which to deliver insights and to accelerate productivity.

So, a big thank you to our guest, Darren Koch, Chief Product Officer at SAP Ariba. Thank you, sir.

Koch: You got it.

Gardner: And thank you as well to our audience for joining this BriefingsDirect modern digital business innovation discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host throughout this series of SAP Ariba-sponsored BriefingsDirect discussions. Thanks again for listening, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript. Sponsor: SAP Ariba.

Transcript of a discussion on how intelligence gleaned from business applications, data, and networks provides the best new hope for closing the digital transformation gap at many companies. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2018. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2018

Ryder Cup Provides Extreme Use Case for Managing the Digital Edge for 250K On-Site Mobile Fans

Transcript of a discussion on how the 2018 Ryder Cup golf match between European and US players places unique technical and campus requirements on its operators.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Dana Gardner: Hello, and welcome to the next edition of the BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer podcast series. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host and moderator for this ongoing discussion on digital transformation success stories.

Our next extreme use case interview examines how an edge-computing Gordian Knot is being sliced through innovation and pluck at a prestigious live sporting event. We will now hear how the 2018 Ryder Cup golf match between European and US players is placing a unique combination of requirements on its operators.

As a result, the IT solutions needed to make the Ryder Cup better than ever for its 250,000 live spectators and sponsors will set a new benchmark for future mobile sports tournaments.

Here to describe the challenges and solutions for making the latest networks and applications operate in a highly distributed environment is Michael Cole, Chief Technology Officer for the European Tour and Ryder Cup. Welcome, Michael.

Michael Cole: Thank you.

Gardner: What is the Ryder Cup, set for September 2018 near Paris, for those who might not know? 

Blue-ribbon infrastructure

Cole: The Ryder Cup is a biannual golf event, contested by teams representing Europe and the United States. It is without doubt the most prestigious team event in golf and arguably the world’s most compelling sporting contest in the world.

As such, it really is our blue-ribbon event and requires a huge temporary infrastructure to serve 250,000 spectators -- over 50,000 super fans every day of the event -- but also media, journalists, players, and their entourages.

Gardner: Why do you refer this as blue-ribbon? What is it about the US versus Europe aspect that makes it so special?

Cole: It’s special for the players, really. These professionals play the majority of their schedule in the season as individuals. The Ryder Cup gives them the opportunity to play as a team -- and that is special for the players. You can see that in the passion of representing either the United States or Europe.

Gardner: What makes the Ryder Cup such a difficult problem from this digital delivery and support perspective? Why are the requirements for a tournament-wide digital architecture so extreme?

Cole: Technology deployment in golf is very challenging. We have to bear in mind that every course essentially is a greenfield site. We very rarely return to the same course on two occasions. Therefore, how you deploy technology in an environment that is 150 acres large – or the equivalent of 85 football pitches -- is challenging. And we must do that as a temporary overlay for four days of operation, or three days for the Ryder Cup, operationally leading in, deploying our technology, and then bumping out very quickly onto the next event.

We typically deploy up to five different infrastructures: one for television; another for the tournament television big digital screens in the fan zones on the course; the scoring network has its own infrastructure; the public Wi-Fi, and, of course, we have the back-of-house operational IT infrastructure as well. It’s a unique challenge in terms of scale and complexity.

Gardner: It also exemplifies the need for core data capabilities that are deeply integrated with two-way, high-volume networks and edge devices. How do you tie the edge and the core together effectively?

Data delivery leads the way

Cole: The technology has a critical role to play for us. We at the European Tour lead the transformation in global golf -- very much putting in data at the heart of our sports to create the right level of content and insight for our key stakeholders. This is critical.

For us this is about adopting the Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Intelligent Edge network and approach, which ensures the processing of data, location-based services, and the distribution of content that all takes place at the point of interaction with our key stakeholders, i.e., at the edge and on the golf course.
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Gardner: What do you mean by location services as pertains to the Ryder Cup? How challenging is that to manage?

Cole: One of the key benefits that the infrastructure will provide is an understanding of people and their behavior. So, we will be able to track the crowds around the course. We will be able to use that insight in terms of behaviors to create value -- both for ourselves in terms of operational delivery, but also for our sponsors by delivering a better understanding of spectators and how they can convert those spectators into customers.

Big BYOD challenges 

Gardner: This is also a great example of how to support a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) challenge. Spectators may prefer to use their cellular networks, but those aren’t always available in these particular locations. What is it about the types of devices that these fans are using that also provides a challenge?

Cole: One of the interesting things that we recently found is the correlation between devices and people. So whilst we are expecting more than 51,000 people per day at the Ryder Cup, the number of devices could easily be double or triple that.

Typically, people these days will have two to three devices. So when we consider the Ryder Cup week [in September] and the fact that we will have more than 250,000 people attending – it’s even more devices. This is arguably the biggest BYOD environment on the planet this year, and that’s a challenge.

Gardner: What are you putting in place so that the end user experience is what they expect?

Cole: I use the term frictionless. I want the experience to be frictionless. The way they on-board, the way they access the Wi-Fi -- I want it to be seamless and easy. It’s critical for us to maximize the number of spectators using the Wi-Fi infrastructure. It equally becomes a source of data and is useful for marketing purposes. So the more people that we can get onto the Wi-Fi, convert them into registering, and then receiving promotional activity – for both us and our partners -- that’s a key measure of success.
It is critical for us to maximize the number of spectators using the WiFi infrastructure. It becomes a source of data and is useful for marketing. I want the experience to be frictionless.

Gardner: What you accomplish at the Ryder Cup will set the standard for going further for the broader European Tour. Tell us about the European Tour and how this sets the stage for extending your success across a greater distribution of golfing events.

Cole: This is without doubt the biggest investment that the European Tour has made in technology, and particularly for the Ryder Cup. So it is critical for us that the investment becomes our legacy as well. I am very much looking forward to having an adoption of technology that will serve our purposes, not only for the Ryder Cup, not only for this year, but in fact for the next four years, until the next Ryder Cup cycle.

For me it’s about an investment in a quadrennial period, and serving those 47 tournaments each year, and making sure that we can provide a consistency and quality beyond the Ryder Cup for each of our tournaments across the European Tour schedule.

Gardner: And how many are there?

Cole: We will run 47 tournaments in 30 countries, across five continents. Our down season is just three days. So we are operationally on the go every day, every week of the year.

Gardner: Many of our listeners and readers tend to be technologists, so let’s dig into the geek stuff. Tell us about the solution. How do you solve these scale problems?

Golf in a private cloud 

Cole: One of the critical aspects is to ensure that data is very much at the heart of everything we do. We need to make sure that we have the topology right, and that topology clearly is underpinned by the technological platform. We will be adopting a classic core distribution and access approach.

For the Ryder Cup, we will have more than 130 switches. In order to provide network ubiquity and overcome one of our greatest challenges of near 100 percent Wi-Fi coverage across the course, we will need 700 access switches. So this has scale and scope, but it doesn’t stop there.

We will essentially be creating our own private cloud. We will be utilizing the VMware virtual platform. We will have a number of on-premises servers and that will be configured across two network corporation centers, with full resiliency and duplicity between the two.

Having 100 percent availability is critical for my industry and delivery of golf across the operational period of three days for Ryder Cup or four days of a traditional golf tournament. We cannot afford any downtime -- even five minutes is five minutes too much.

Gardner: Just to dwell on the edge technology, what is it about the Aruba technology from HPE that is satisfying your needs, given this extreme situation of hundreds of acres and hilly terrain and lots of obstacles?
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Cole: Golf is unique because it’s a greenfield site, with a unique set of challenges. No two golf courses are the same in the world. The technology platform gives us a modular approach. It gives us the agility to deploy what is necessary where and when we need.

And we can do this with the HPE Aruba platform in a way that gives us true integration, true service management, and a stack of applications that can better enable us to manage that entire environment. That includes through the basic management of the infrastructure to security and on-boarding for the largest BYOD requirements on the planet this year. And it’s for a range of services that we will integrate into our spectator app to deliver better value and smarter insights for our commercial family.

Gardner: Tell us about Michael Cole. How did your background prepare you for such a daunting undertaking?

Cole: My background has always been in technology. I spent some 20 years with British Telecom (BT). More recently I moved into the area of sports and technology, following the London 2012 Olympics. I then worked for technology companies for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. I have supported technology companies for the PyeongChang [South Korea] 2018 Winter Games, and also for the up and coming 2020 Tokyo Games, as well as the Pan American Games.

So I have always been passionate about technology, but increasingly passionate about the use of technology in sports. What I bring to the European Tour is the broader insight around multinational global sports and events and bringing that insight into golf.

Gardner: Where is the Ryder Cup this year?

Cole: It’s being held just outside Paris at Versailles, at Le Golf National. And there’s a couple of things I want to say on this. It's the first time that the European Tour has been held in Europe outside of United Kingdom since 1997 at Valderrama in Spain.

The other interesting aspect, thinking about my background around the Olympics, is actually Le Golf National is the venue for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games; in fact, where the event of golf will be held. So, one of my key objectives is to create a compelling and sustainable legacy for those games in 2024.

Gardner: Let’s fast-forward to the third week of September 2018. What will a typical day in the life of Michael Cole be like as you are preparing and then actually executing on this?

Test-driven tech performance 

Cole: Well, there is no typical day. Every day is very different, and we still have a heavy schedule on our European Tour, but what is critical is the implementation phase and the run in to the Ryder Cup.

My team was on site to start the planning and early deployment some six months ago, in February. The activity now increases significantly. In the month of June, we took delivery of the equipment on site and initiated the Technology Operations Center, and in fact, the Wi-Fi is now live.

We also will adopt one of the principles from the Olympics in terms of test events, so we will utilize the French Open as a test event for the Ryder Cup. And this is an important aspect to the methodology.
I am very pleased with the way we are working with our partner, HPE, and its range of technology partners.

But equally, I am very pleased in the way that we are working with our partner, HPE, and its range of technology partners. In fact, we have adopted an eight-phase approach through staging, through design, and through configuration off site, on site. We do tech rehearsals.

So, the whole thing is very structured and methodical in terms of the approach as we get closer to the Ryder Cup in September.

Gardner: We have looked at this through the lens of technology uniqueness and challenge. Let’s look at this through the lens of business. How will you know you have succeeded through the eyes of your sponsors and your organization? It seems to me that you are going to be charting new ground when it comes to business models around location, sporting, spectators. What are some of the new opportunities you hope to uncover from a business model perspective?

Connect, capture, create

Cole: The platform has three key aspects to it, in my mind. The first one is the ability to create the concept of a connected golf course, a truly connected course, with near 100 percent connectivity at all times.

The second element is the ability to capture data, and that data will drive insights and help us to understand behavioral patterns of spectators on the course.
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The third aspect, which is really the answer to your question, is how we utilize that intelligence and that insight to create real value for our sponsors. The days of sponsors thinking activation was branding and the hospitality program are long gone. They are now far more sophisticated in their approach and their expectations are taken to a new level. And as a rights holder we have an obligation to help them be successful in that activation and achieve their return on investment (ROI).

Moving from a spectator to a lead, to a lead to a customer, from customer to an advocate is critical for them. I believe that our choice of technology for the Ryder Cup and for the European Tour will help in that journey. So it’s critical in terms of the value that we can now deliver to those sponsors and not just meet their expectations -- but exceed their expectations.

Gardner: Beinga New Englander, I remember well in 1999 when the Ryder Cup was in Brookline, Massachusetts at The Country Club. I was impressed not only by the teams from each continent competing, but it also seemed like the corporations were competing for prestige, trying to outdo one another from either side of the pond in how they could demonstrate their value and be part of the pageantry.

Are the corporations also competing, and does that give them a great platform to take advantage of your technology?

Collaborate and compete

Cole: Well, healthy competition is good, and if they all want to exceed and compete with each other that can only be good news for us in terms of the experience that we create. But it has to be exceptional for the fans as well.

So collaboration and competition, I think, are critical. I believe that any suite of sponsors needs to operate both as a family, but also in terms of that healthy competition.

Gardner: When you do your postmortem on the platform and the technology, what will be the metrics that you will examine to determine how well you succeeded in reaching and exceeding their expectations? What are those key metrics that you are going to look for when it’s over?
The technology platform now gives us the capability to go far. Critical to the success will be the satisfaction of the spectators, players, and our commercial family.

Cole: As you would expect, we have a series of financial measurements around merchandizing, ticket revenues, sponsorship revenue, et cetera. But the technology platform now gives us the capability to go far beyond that. Critical to success will be the satisfaction; the satisfaction of spectators, the satisfaction of players, and the satisfaction of our commercial family.

Statistical scorecard 

Gardner: Let’s look to the future. Four years from now, as we know the march of technology continues -- and it’s a rapid pace -- more is being done with machine learning (ML), with utilizing data to its extreme. What might be different in four years at the next Ryder Cup technologically that will even further the goals in terms of the user experience for the players, for the spectators, and for the sponsors?

Cole: Every Ryder Cup brings new opportunities, and technology is moving at a rapid pace. It’s very difficult for me to sit here and have a crystal ball in terms of the future and what it may bring, but what I do know is that data is becoming increasingly more fundamental to us.

Historically, we have always captured scoring for an event, and that equates to about 20,000 data points for a given tournament. We have recently extended it. We now capture seven times the amount of data – including for weather conditions, for golf club types, through lie of the ball, and yardage to the hole. That all equates to 140,000 data points per tournament.

Over a schedule, that’s 5.5 million data points. When we look at the statistical derivatives, we are looking at more than 2 billion statistics from a given tournament. And this is changing all of the time. We can now utilize Internet of things (IoT) technologies to put sensors in anything that moves. If it moves, it can be tracked. If everything is connected, then anything is possible.

Gardner: It would be interesting to see how many sensors and how much more information and detail you can get in terms of the game of golf. It’s a very old game, but seemingly new aspects of enjoying it and viewing it continually are coming to the fore.
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We will have to leave it there. We have been exploring how an edge-computing Gordian Knot is being sliced through via innovation and pluck at a prestigious live sporting event. And we have learned how the latest networks and applications will -- across a massively distributed environment -- make the 2018 Ryder Cup a digital masterpiece for its 250,000 live spectators.

Please join me in thanking our guest, Michael Cole, Chief Technology Officer of the European Tour and Ryder Cup. Thank you so much, Michael.

Cole: My pleasure. Thank you, indeed.

Gardner: And a big thank you as well to our audience for joining us for this BriefingsDirect Voice of the Customer digital transformation success story discussion. I’m Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions, your host for this ongoing series of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise-sponsored interviews.

Thanks again for listening. Please pass this along to your own IT community, and do come back next time.

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes. Get the mobile app. Download the transcript. Sponsor: Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Transcript of a discussion on how the 2018 Ryder Cup golf match between European and US players places unique technical and campus requirements on its operators. Copyright Interarbor Solutions, LLC, 2005-2018. All rights reserved.

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