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2020: Disruption, the changing workplace and the future of automation

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2020: Disruption, the changing workplace and the future of automation

By Marcell Vollmer, Chief Innovation Officer at Celonis 

Technology has taken centre stage in the success of companies today. With the likes of Uber, Amazon, and Deliveroo changing the way we live, shop, work and consume content, innovation is happening faster than ever before. In light of economic uncertainty, it’s become even more vital for businesses to deploy cutting-edge technology to maintain competitiveness. Over the course of the next year, board-level conversations will be dominated by ways to ensure a seamless customer experience, formulating tactics to embrace disruptive technologies, as well as grappling with the implications of the future workplace.

 Apple Easy, Google Fast: the experience management culture

Consumers can now order a meal, book a taxi and do their shopping with a few clicks of a button, without even leaving their living rooms. As a result, customers are increasingly expecting services to be ‘Apple Easy’ and ‘Google Fast’ in all aspects of their lives, demanding quick and seamless experiences across the board. Customer experience management will continue to be a driver of success across all sectors in 2020. For many organisations, this means going back to the drawing board and incorporating customer-centricity at the core of their business models. As digitally native brands take a data-driven approach to provide frictionless experiences, customers will no longer tolerate dated technology with legacy systems and antiquated processes.

 In the retail sector for instance, roughly 93 percent of UK internet users are expected to do online shopping by 2021, the highest online shopping penetration rate in Europe. However, as the ecommerce market becomes increasingly saturated, and the high street continues to decline, customer experience will be the central factor to help incumbent brands cut through the noise in the market.

Experience management extends beyond the end user to include other important stakeholders such as suppliers, partners and employees. Over the next 12 months, companies will increasingly need to acknowledge the need for a close link between good employee experience and exceptional customer service. Engaging and retaining employees requires a big shift in company culture. A data scientist might choose to work in Silicon Valley not just for the financial benefits but for the culture of innovation it fosters and the opportunities to grow. This results in companies such as Facebook and Uber – already excelling at customer experience – attracting the best talent. To avoid this brain drain, companies must look to emulate this culture and provide similar opportunities on this side of the pond, creating a superior experience for their employees.

Disruptive technologies – a solution but not a strategy

The adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly taking hold across global business. According to PwC, AI’s potential contribution to the global economy could reach $15.7 trillion by 2030. Companies will continue to embrace disruption or risk falling behind in the tech race – adhering to the mantra of ‘Uber yourself before you get Kodaked’.

In particular, the market for Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will grow exponentially in 2020, as use cases for the technology continue to emerge across sectors. The commercialisation of IoT data will also increase, sparking the data economy for IIoT. Over the next year, IIoT platform services will continue to turn to public cloud providers. The data collected from IoT devices will also be used to connect the entire supply chain – from research and development to suppliers providing goods and through the different stages of manufacturing.

Yet overall, the business world is still just beginning to harness these technologies. Many organisations still lack the foundational practices to create value from disruptive technologies at scale, and don’t have clear strategies for sourcing the data that AI requires. Research from Celonis indicates 45% of C-suite execs don’t know where to start when developing their transformation strategy – which is no surprise given 82% of business leaders admit that they don’t look at their internal processes to establish priorities before starting a transformation initiative. Considering over a third of businesses have spent over £500,000 on these initiatives, it’s vital that they establish clear strategies before embarking on one.

Businesses that rush to deploy technologies without first digging deep to understand where they can best create value will find their strategies failing. Instead, for organisations to succeed, they will need to look at the underlying inefficiencies within processes, only automating once the root cause of the inefficiency has been addressed.

The future of work: augmented robotic collaboration

The workplace in 2020 will see ‘augmented collaboration’, with humans and robots increasingly working together side-by-side. This amalgamation of human and robots is already visible on the shop floor, as Amazon Go-style stores begin to spring up, allowing for a completely cashier-less retail experience.

This isn’t necessarily new: people have been working collaboratively with tech such as laptops and mobile phones for many years. However, what’s new is the advent of human-machine convergence. This goes hand-in-hand with advanced robotic technology, powering anything from ‘smart glasses’ to intelligent assistants. Furthermore, autonomous machines will be capable of taking on even more tasks, enabling humans to focus on the real value-add work.

On the flip side, companies will need to prepare their employees for this shift, as Gen Z start to enter the workforce. With their own unique set of demands and expectations, the new generation’s life experiences affect the types of jobs they seek and define what’s most important to them. They’re naturally tech-savvy, for example, with a recent survey finding that  technology offered by an employer would influence the job choice of 91% of respondents. The next year will see companies accelerate their preparation for attracting the right talent, aligning their ethos and career development initiatives with their expectations.

With so many changes coming so fast, it can be hard to grasp the sheer scale of technology innovation underway. Whatever happens, 2020 will be an interesting year for major organisations across all sectors as companies focus on adopting disruptive technologies and ensuring a holistic experience for their customers, as well as preparing for the workplace of the future.

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise

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Thomson Reuters fourth-quarter revenue, adjusted earnings rise 1

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Thomson Reuters Corp reported higher fourth-quarter revenue on Tuesday and said it would start a two-year program that will change it from a holding company to an operating company.

The news and information company, which owns Reuters News, said revenues rose 2% to $1.62 billion, while its operating profit jumped more than 300% to $956 million, reflecting the sale of an investment, a gain from an amendment to pension plan and lower costs.

Its three main divisions, Legal Professionals, Tax & Accounting Professionals and Corporates, all showed higher organic quarterly sales and adjusted profit.

It was not immediately clear if adjusted earnings per share of 54 cents were directly comparable to the 46 cents expected.

Thomson Reuters’ markets are healthy and evolving, making this a good time to transition the company from a content provider to a “content-driven technology company,” Chief Executive Steve Hasker said in a statement.

Workplaces have been transformed by the COVID-19 pandemic and artificial intelligence has a larger role in professional markets, he said.

(Writing by Nick Zieminski in New York, editing by Louise Heavens and Jane Merriman)

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Tesla shares set to skid into the red for the year

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Tesla shares set to skid into the red for the year 2

LONDON (Reuters) – Shares in Tesla were set to plunge into the red for the year on Tuesday, hit by a broad selloff of high-flying technology stocks and the fall of bitcoin, in which the electric carmaker recently invested $1.5 billion.

By 1029 GMT, Tesla was down over 8% in U.S. premarket deals after a similar drop during the previous session. The firm led by Elon Musk has had a stellar ride since 2020, which it began at about $85 per share, before reaching the $900 mark on January 25.

Currently trading at about $657 in pre market transactions, the stock has lost 27% from its peak, which is above the 20% level which technically defines a bear market.

Bitcoin has also swung into a bear market, falling from a peak of $58,354 on February 21 to a low of $45,000 earlier on Tuesday.

A Germany-based trader said he was “taking chips off the table” on Tesla as its 1.5 billion investment in the cryptocurrency could “backfire now”.

Analysts at Barclays noted that there has been a drop of conversations about the electric car makers in the Reddit’s WallStreetBets forum, which could explain some of the loss of appetite for the stock.

“With only 2-3 total submissions on each of the past several days, we remain below the trend in attention that has come along with big returns jumps in the past”, the analysts said in note.

Other analysts have also cautioned against investing in the stock which remains one of the most expensive on the S&P 500 index at 163 times its 12 month forward earnings.

Graphic: Tesla shares selloff after multi-fold gains

Tesla shares set to skid into the red for the year 3

(Reporting by Julien Ponthus and Thyagaraju Adinarayan)

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H&M, IKEA and Stora Enso backed TreeToTextile builds sustainable fibre demo plant

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H&M, IKEA and Stora Enso backed TreeToTextile builds sustainable fibre demo plant 4

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – A venture part-owned by Finnish forestry group Stora Enso, Sweden’s H&M and IKEA said on Tuesday it was set to build a demonstration plant in Sweden for a new, more sustainable wood-based textile fibre after years of research.

To markedly reduce their climate footprint and pollution, large apparel and furniture brands are in dire need of affordable greener alternatives to cotton, traditional viscose and polyester. Several Nordic pulp makers are part of projects developing new clean ways https://www.reuters.com/article/us-nordics-forestry-idCAKCN0WF076 to turn trees into textile fibre.

TreeToTextile said in a statement its plant would have a production capacity of 1,500 tonnes and its owners would fund the bulk of the 35 million euro ($42.6 million) investment.

“The novel process is deliberately designed to have low energy demand and low chemical need. It is engineered to suit large scale production and includes a recovery systemfor reusing chemicals,” it said.

“By investing in a demonstration plant, we are finally on the go. With it we are turning years of R&D into reality to increase the biobased share on the textile market to support climate action.”

TreeToTextile, whose fourth part-owner is innovator Lars Stigsson, said the plant would be located at Stora Enso’s Nymolla mill in Sweden, and its construction would start in the near future.

Viscose is the main existing textile fibre from wood pulp – followed by the newer lyocell which has a cleaner manufacturing method. Production is dominated by Austria’s Lenzing, India’s Aditya Birla and China’s Sateri.

($1 = 0.82 euros)

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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