Part 3 in a 3-part series on A Digital Supply Chain for a Digital Economy

Every year in May, SAP customers and partners come together in Orlando, Florida for SAPPHIRE NOW—the SAP user conference. SAPPHIRE is big: 22,000 attendees and a showroom floor of 1 million square feet. It’s also regarded as one of the most innovative cloud and business technology conferences around—featuring game-changing technologies that enable attendees to meet the future today and chart paths forward for achieving their companies’ digital destinies.

But believe it or not, SAPPHIRE could be even better. How? By tapping the full power of the digital supply chain to transformation experiences from end to end. Let’s take a look.

Getting There, the Easy Way

Meet Linda—a bit of a SAPPHIRE groupie who hasn’t missed an event in a decade. But this year, Linda’s experience is qualitatively different. Because of her strong relationship with the event, her spot is automatically reserved, her flight booked, and her hotel selected. A month before SAPPHIRE, she gets an alert on her phone with a link to her travel itinerary. Everything looks good, and she approves.

On her flight over, Linda’s food—chosen pre-flight—is served up to her liking. Her entertainment favorites—documentaries and romcoms from the early ’60s—are also queued up to help make her flight as enjoyable as possible.

At the hotel, Linda is upgraded to a suite, based on the loyalty points she’s earned. Over dinner—prepared to meet her fitness and caloric intake preferences—she uses her SAPPHIRE app to review her itinerary for the first day of the conference. Based on her professional interests, networks, and previous year’s attendance, her day is already mapped out. She makes changes, but not many. Once on-site, her SAPPHIRE app will make new recommendations for where to go based on location, interest, and trend data.

Thus far, even though the conference has yet to begin, Linda’s experience is already improved. One key is a solid data foundation backed by data governance to support a single source of truth across the organization and beyond. With better data, SAPPHIRE planners can do better analysis and generate the insight needed to automate processes, achieve new levels of service, and transform the experience attendees.

No Lanyards, More Insight

The next morning, Linda arrives at the convention center for the opening of SAPPHIRE. But instead of queueing up to scan her conference badge, she simply strolls in. In fact, she has no badge at all. Rather, her entry is tracked by facial recognition technology, which identifies Linda by using machine learning to match her face with images stored in the cloud.

Once inside, Linda’s SAPPHIRE app uses wi-fi to track her journey through the showroom floor. This data (where she visits, who she speaks with) is uploaded, mixed with larger trend datasets, and analyzed using machine learning algorithms to identify patterns and predict likes and dislikes. Based on this analysis, Linda’s app serves up suggestions for other booths, demos, and displays she may want to attend. This helps to make Linda’s experience at SAPPHIRE virtually seamless.

Behind the scenes, event planners and managers can use the app data from Linda and others to create heat maps that reveal where attendees tend to cluster. This can provide quick visual confirmation of most popular attractions and help planners optimize traffic flow—in real time and in the future. Planners can also analyze booth data to make changes in real time to better meet visitor expectations as required.

Great Food, Personalized Choices

Linda is on a fitness kick and wants to avoid overindulging on the great food available at SAPPHIRE. For every meal, a dashboard on her SAPPHIRE app tracks calorie intake in light of steps walked and other activity data. Late in the afternoon on the first day of the conference, Linda is famished. Her app tells her that a nearby vending machine has a low-calorie power bar available. How does the app know? The vending machine uses IoT sensors to send out data on inventory levels. Connected to this data, Linda’s app knows where to find whatever it is that Linda wants.

This same data also helps suppliers track replenishment in real time—while additional data can help analyze operational health for predictive maintenance and support dynamic pricing based on the profiles of attendees.

At an evening reception for an SAP partner with whom Linda works, dinner is served for attendees—many of whom come from different countries around the world. Based on attendee data, the caterer is able to create meals that meet various regional and cultural preferences. With blockchain technology and IoT data, moreover, much of the food served is tracked to ensure freshness.

The caterer can also use digital supply networks that detect demand and respond in real time. Let’s say the reception is an unexpected hit and more people show up than planned. The caterer can address the potential shortages in real-time and prevent disruptions. They can also data from this event to plan more effectively for subsequent years.

Dynamic Recommendations, and Robots, Too

Throughout her day at SAPPHIRE, Linda has been receiving alerts regarding her next planned activities and events. At the same time, her app has been sending recommendations on what’s hot at SAPPHIRE.

Following a recommendation to visit a new installation, Linda arrives at a demonstration of robots for warehouses. In a compact space filled with humans moving around, the robots navigate complex routes from point A to B and interact with humans. Situational awareness based on real-time IoT data mixed with GPS-based navigational safeguards ensure that these robots can work with humans safely.

As Linda works with many third-party logistics providers, she sees how these robots can be used to safely transport goods between picking stations in a controlled warehouse environment. She speaks with the presenters and captures all necessary information she needs to follow up later.

Finally, at the end of the day, the app recommends a restaurant where colleagues in her network are gathering. She has a great time but doesn’t stay out too late—because after all, this is only day one.

The Digital Supply Chain Is Here

With emerging technology such as IoT, analytics, blockchain, and machine learning, your organization can connect to digital supply chains that help you deliver better customer outcomes. What’s the advantage? How about greater agility for responding to events? Or improved collaboration for meeting the unique needs of customers? But perhaps the greatest advantage of all is higher profitability based on high-value, long-term customer relationships. This is what the digital supply chain can do for you.

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