Janina Bauer, Global Head of Sustainability at Celonis provides some expert insight into the reality of implementing sustainable practices…

Janina Bauer, Global Head of Sustainability at Celonis provides some expert insight into the reality of implementing sustainable practices…

Please tell us more about yourself and your role at Celonis.

I have been involved in sustainability long before it became mainstream. I did a Master’s in Business Administration with a focus on sustainability, and also worked at the U.N. analysing and researching the implementation of its Sustainable Development Goals. I bring that passion for exploring the big ideas around technology and sustainability to my role at Celonis, where I am Global Head of Sustainability. I took over Celonis’ sustainability programme in 2020, overseeing both our progress internally, and our external work where we help our customers using the Celonis Platform, enabling them to operationalise sustainability in all of their business processes.

Why is it essential businesses embed sustainability into business objectives, strategy and decision-making?

Going forward, there is no longer a separation between a business’ bottom line and their sustainability ‘green line’. To be a high-performing organisation in today’s business world, and tomorrow’s, companies need to be both profitable and sustainable. Future-proofed organisations are on top of both aspects, and ensure that sustainability and profitability are embedded into every single decision. There’s no contradiction between being a profitable business and not harming the environment you operate in. In fact, actions that boost sustainability also boost profitability by cutting waste. A key thing to remember is that everyone has a part to play in an organisation’s sustainability journey. It’s not something simply for people with ‘sustainability’ in their job title, but for leaders and workers in every part of the business.

Why are organisations struggling to implement their sustainability goals?

There are several barriers holding businesses back, including the inaccurate perception that sustainability is simply a cost, whereas it often goes hand in hand with profitability. Organisations which are struggling to implement their sustainability goals are often dealing with a people problem. If sustainability is seen as being the business of sustainability specialists only, rather than being integral to an organisation’s DNA, it can be hard to secure alignment and buy-in across the whole business.

Education, in the form of courses and clear communication within an organisation, can help to address fears and reluctance around sustainability, and the perceived cost of embracing change. The other key issue is siloed, unconnected systems which make it harder for business leaders to truly understand their carbon footprint. Many organisations have more than 300 IT systems, and the average business process runs across 10 different systems, with data buried in separate systems from transactional data in ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software to Excel Spreadsheets. Process mining can help business leaders unravel this and identify where efficiencies can be made. This in turn helps to support sustainability objectives and reduce costs and waste.

Should companies should place a greater emphasis on reducing Scope 3 emissions?

When it comes to sustainability objectives, do you think companies should place a greater emphasis on reducing Scope 3 emissions?

For most organisations, Scope 3 emissions, which includes those from all of their downstream and upstream activities, are the Holy Grail when it comes to having an impact on emissions. That’s where the biggest carbon footprint lies and that’s where the most exciting opportunities for rapid progress are.

The data required for a real-time view of Scope 3 emissions is already at businesses’ fingertips – it’s just that it’s buried inside siloed carbon-accounting tools and other software. The first step is to extract this data using process intelligence technologies, and then organisations can make real progress.

How important is technology in helping companies make sustainability gains?

The first step towards having genuine impact in sustainability is to measure the environmental impact of the organisation’s current operations. This is where technology plays a crucial role. Technologies such as process intelligence enable business leaders to make informed decisions around sustainability, working like an ‘X-Ray’ on existing data and highlighting value opportunities, as well as allowing business leaders to understand the full journey of the goods they sell, and all the emissions associated with this. This data allows IT leaders to measure and drive sustainability, comparing performance against best-practice models and collaborating with partners and suppliers to reduce emissions.

What actions do you hope to see from COP28 that will result in tangible outcomes for the corporate world in 2024?

COP28 has offered a unique opportunity to embrace real and meaningful action to combat climate change, as well as a crucial dialogue between politicians, business leaders and decision makers. What I hope to see is more organisations embracing technology and innovation to make strides towards real sustainable change, with a particular focus on decarbonising supply chains and different industry sectors. Many pledges have been made at COP28 with good intentions, but now it falls on leaders to back up those pledges with real, measurable outcomes, using technology to turn their words into actions. Of course, process mining is not a ‘silver bullet’ which can tackle climate change on its own, but it does offer a crucial way for business leaders to find hidden value opportunities and make real advancements in sustainability.

Cybersecurity leader Shinesa Cambric on Microsoft’s innovation journey to identify, detect, protect, and respond to emerging threats against identity and access

This month’s cover story highlights a cybersecurity program protecting billions of users.

Welcome to the latest issue of Interface magazine!

Interface showcases leaders at the forefront of innovation with digital technologies transforming myriad industries.

Read the latest issue here!

Microsoft: Innovation in Cybersecurity

Shinesa Cambric is on a mission to drive innovation for cybersecurity at Microsoft. Moreover, by embracing diversity and opening all channels towards collaboration her team tackles anti-abuse and delivers fraud-defence. Continuous Improvement doesn’t just play into her role, it defines it…

“In the fraud and abuse space, attackers are constantly trying to identify ways to look like a legitimate user,” warns Shinesa. “And this means my team, and our partners, have to continuously adapt. We identify new patterns and behaviours to detect fraudsters. At the same time, we must do it in such a way we don’t impact our truly ‘good’ and legitimate users. Microsoft is a global consumer business and any time you add friction or an unpleasant experience for a consumer, you risk losing them, their business and potentially their trust. My team’s work sits on the very edge of the account sign up and sign in process. We are essentially the first touch within the customer funnel for Microsoft – a multi-billion dollar company.”

ABB: Digital Technolgies contributing towards Net Zero

Nigel Greatorex, Global Industry Manager for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at ABB Energy Industries, explains how digital technologies can play a critical role in the transition to a low carbon world. He highlights the role of CCS in enabling global emissions reductions and how challenges can be overcome through digitalisation…

“It is widely recognised decarbonisation is essential to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Therefore, it’s not surprising that emerging decarbonisation technology is becoming an increasingly important, and rapidly growing market.”

CSI: How can your IT estate improve its sustainability?

Andy Dunn, Chief Revenue Officer at IT solutions specialist CSI, reveals how digital technologies can contribute to ESG obligations: “Sustainability is a now seen as a strategic business imperative, so much so that 74% of companies consider Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors to be very important to the value of their company. Additionally, we know almost three in four organisations have set a net zero goal. With an average target date of 2044, 50% of organisations are seeking more energy efficient products and services.”

“Optimising energy use and consolidating servers and storage infrastructure form a strong basis for shaping a more environmentally friendly and efficient IT estate. It no longer needs to be the Achilles Heel of an ESG policy. “

Mia Platform: Sustainable Cloud Computing

Davide Bianchi, Senior Technical Lead at Mia Platform, explores the silver lining of sustainable cloud computing. He reveals how it can help us reduce our digital carbon thumbprint with collaboration, efficient use of applications, containerisation of apps, microservices and green partnerships.

“We’re already on an important technological path toward ubiquitous cloud computing. Correspondingly, this brings incredible long-term benefits too. These include greater scalability, improved data storage, and quicker application deployment, to name a few.”

Also in this issue, we hear from Doug Laney, Innovation Fellow at West Monroe and author of Infonomics and Data Juice. Also, we learn how companies can measure, manage and monetise to realise the potential of their data. And, Deputy CIO Melvin Brown discusses the people-centric approach to IT supporting America’s civil service at The Office of Personnel Management (OPM).

Enjoy the issue!

Dan Brightmore, Editor

HICX CEO Costas Xyloyiannis on why we should turn the spotlight toward the experience suppliers receive as they serve big manufacturing brands.

What’s clear from Deloitte’s Global Chief Procurement Officer Survey 2023 is that environmental and social governance (ESG) is now firmly on the corporate agenda. This year, it leapt right up the priority list, from seventh place to second.

Elevating ESG, however, is tough to deliver. In practice, it is hugely dependent upon good supplier data, which is notoriously hard to achieve and maintain. Exploring why turns the spotlight to its source: suppliers. So, do suppliers themselves cause brands to struggle with data? 

Supplier experience expert HICX’s CEO, Costas Xyloyiannis, says they do – but only reactively. Where we really should turn the spotlight, he believes, is toward the experience suppliers receive as they serve big manufacturing brands. 

Letting data live across teams will harm it

The way in which big brands work with suppliers creates too many entry points for their data. Each digital tool which employees use to engage suppliers is an opening. And by default, suppliers deposit their data in whichever tool they’re expected to use. 

For example, when working with a major brand, suppliers are expected to use different tools for placing orders, sending compliance surveys, assessing performance, and doing many other tasks. Furthermore, most employees across the business work with suppliers in some way. Each time the parties work together in one of these tools, it stores the supplier’s data. And when we step back and look at all the data across the brand, as a whole, it is very compromised.

When the master dataset is created this way, it gets peppered with duplicated, incomplete, and outdated entries. Regrettably, in this format, it misguides decisions – including those which shape ESG activity. 

The best team to own supplier data is overrun

Brands can reverse this weakness by addressing the data problem. But someone needs to do it. Despite so many teams contributing to and using supplier data, there is no one perfect owner for the job.

There is a function, however, which is closest. Procurement. As it already runs the relationship with suppliers, Chief Procurement Officers (CPOs) can probe adjacent issues – such as data. 

A consideration though, is that Procurement teams already have mandates, which they are stretched to deliver. Eating into the function’s bandwidth is the necessity to tackle inflation, demand surges, driver shortages, and other Covid-19-related issues. Also waiting for the function’s attention is digital transformation, an area in which it seriously lags. 

Put data at the heart of current strategies

Looking at Deloitte’s latest survey results, there is an opportunity for CPOs to work smart. There is a clear path for CPOs to fit the brand’s data goal at the heart of their two top strategies, “increasing supplier collaboration” and “investing in digital transformation.” Supporting this approach is in the interest – and arguably the responsibility – of all C-suite executives. 

How then can fellow executives get involved? First, we can help Procurement’s collaboration strategy by reforming how every employee sees suppliers. Too often, suppliers are just a means to save costs. And while saving costs is important, it’s not everything. Untypically, cost savings slipped off the podium in this year’s survey, into fourth place. This shift in focus – away from squeezing suppliers and towards collaborating with them – will bode well for brands that want to perform in ESG. But only if everyone in the organisation can adopt the mindset.

If they do, brands can offer suppliers a better experience which will encourage them to contribute to improving data. It is human nature to want to give back. Further, we learnt in a recent HICX survey that suppliers are 20% more likely to “go the extra mile” for brands they rate as customers of choice. Therefore, it’s likely that suppliers will want to participate.

But a willingness to hike data quality is not enough. In addition to company mindsets, brands must tackle a second obstacle: digital processes.

Redefine what it means to digitise

Next, we can help Procurement to revamp the tools through which everyone engages suppliers. We know that too many entry points pull down data quality. The opportunity, then, is to guide the way in which Procurement digitises so that the brand and function can gain control. Thinking about processes in this way is real digital transformation.

Today’s situation makes maintaining reliable data very hard. Any attempt to cleanse data is undermined by the inflow of new data from multiple sources. It’s like trying to clean the ocean. The rate at which new pollution enters the ocean outstrips most efforts to remove it. And in both cases, it makes sense to control the inflow. 

In a digital environment, this means fitting a solid data foundation. A data foundation, in practice, is a central repository with one front door that is monitored and through which all new data must come in. Master data can be sent to other tools. The rule however is that they can only borrow the data, and never alter it. Good data resides in this foundational repository, where it is looked after. 

A word of caution though: be aware of quick fixes. A deeper look at the “multiple entry points” situation reveals a deeper integration challenge. Established tools, such as source-to-pay suites through which Procurement and Finance work with suppliers, don’t always mix well with newer tools on the market. One remedy is to use established suites fitted with newer features. But this fails to address the data quality goal. It reminds me of the famous quote by Henry Ford: If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. Using old suites fitted with new features is like using a faster horse. It’s a stopgap. Rather, let’s stop good data’s tendency to evade ESG leaders when they need it most. Let’s tackle underlying issues once and for all. 

Building for the future

Truly digitising, of course, gives suppliers a better experience too, which drives the collaboration goal—and sets in motion a virtuous cycle. 

Now, suppliers who once fed the ESG data problem can contribute to its solution. Leaders who help their CPOs to collaborate with suppliers and digitally transform, for the greater enterprise, can steer supplier behaviour and keep good data. And this, as we know, is the fuel to ESG success.

By Costas Xyloyiannis, CEO, HICX

Gartner surveyed 400 senior business leaders about the challenges faced and their priorities for 2022-23. We analysed the results

Priorities change in a business; they evolve all the time to match the societal landscape around them. Following a major worldwide disruption like the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that the focus for CEOs has shifted to match the way our outlooks and challenges have changed.

Gartner surveyed 400 senior business leaders about their 2022-23 priorities and found that – for the first time – environmental sustainability has made its way into the top 10. Additionally, workforce issues are a bigger priority than ever before.

Mark Raskino, VP Analyst at Gartner, said of the results: “In 2022, the Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey showed that, catalysed by multiple macro trends and economic factors, business leaders are reprioritizing some key areas of enterprise purpose and management focus.”

The last time there was such a dramatic change in the priorities of CEOs was in 2009-10, during the recovery from the last major recession. Here, we’ll dig into the key challenges for CEOs in 2023…

Growth

While growth remains the primary challenge, with 51% of respondents stating that it’s in their top three priorities, it’s actually down 8% from 2021-22. Gartner has surmised that the reason for this is that, due to ongoing supply chain disruptions, business leaders are less focused on driving up demand if they don’t necessarily know whether they can supply. Many organisations are working hard to revamp and improve their supply chains, but uncertainty remains and nobody wants to make promises that they can’t keep.

Gartners top 10 strategic business priority areas for 2022-2023

Technology

Technology has also dropped slightly as a top three priority, though it remains the second biggest focus at 34%. While the survey respondents are 5% less concerned about tech-related issues than in 2021-22, it’s still hugely important – especially as the world recovers from the pandemic.

Many businesses have taken the pandemic as a sign that they need better digitalisation, as a lack of that made the transition to home working difficult for some. Additionally, cybercrime is a major concern, especially when ensuring employees have the hardware and software they need to work safely from multiple locations.

Workforce

A focus on the workforce is up 32% from 2021-22, putting it at 31% in third place. This is the second consecutive year that workforce has become more of a priority, and there are multiple reasons for this.

Attracting and retaining employees is a challenge because older generations are retiring and there aren’t always enough replacements for specific roles. Plus, the younger generations joining the workforce are more likely to align themselves with businesses they truly believe in, meaning they are more picky, so organisations have to be the best they can and transparent with it.

Additionally, diversity, equality, and inclusion are bigger focuses than ever, and these have been boosted by the spotlight being shone on such topics during the pandemic. All in all, almost half (49%) of CEOs agreed with the statement that ‘it is very difficult for us to find and hire the kind of people we need in our business’.

Corporate

At 29%, corporate has dipped only a little since 2021-22 – just 5% – and remains a top priority. Corporate includes company structure and culture changes, and this is a focus right now due to the challenges of employee retention, as well as the drive towards digitalisation. Corporate change is required to improve business efficiency and performance, hence its position on this list.

Financial

The financial side of business has decreased in importance to CEOs for 2022-2023, dropping by 27% since 2021-22. However, it’s still in the top three for 20% of respondents. CFOs are making a major push towards finance transformation through technology to boost efficiency in their departments. Despite the ongoing challenge of building digital competencies in finance, 82% of CFOs have reported that their investments in digital are accelerating and exceeding investments in many other areas.

Products & Services

Products and services remain in the top three spot for 15% of respondents, up 43% from 2021. As the world recovers from the pandemic, the products and services a business produces are in the limelight. Competition is more fierce than it’s ever been, so innovation is key to remain in the best position.

Customer

The customer as a priority is up 26% from 2021-22, at 15% – and it’s no surprise. Linking into products and services, and the challenge of hiring the latest generation of workers, costumers have very high standards and hard work is required to impress them and retain loyalty.

In a Gartner survey about customer service trends, 74% of respondents stated that improving operational excellence to create a seamless customer journey is either ‘important’ or ‘very important’, and the survey found that business growth is best achieved through positive customer experience outcomes.

Environmental sustainability

Nine per cent of respondents to the Gartner survey stated that environmental sustainability is a top three priority – up a huge 292% from 2021-22. This is the first time it’s broken into the top 10, which is telling. Businesses are increasingly under pressure to do more when it comes to their own environmental impact. Many leading nations are aiming to be carbon neutral within the next few decades and being more sustainable undeniably leads to growth.

ESG

Cost

Also at 9% is cost, which is actually down 24%. Despite it being less of a concern than in 2021-22, cost remains a major focus. Supply chain shortages and the government support offered to help people through lockdowns have driven inflation, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made that worse. As a result, we’re seeing the prices of products from the region shoot up, and those cost increases inevitably become the problem of business leaders.

Sales

While it’s number 10 (6%) on Gartner’s list of priority areas, sales is a 77% bigger priority in 2022-2023 than it was in 2021-22. Sales falls into a similar category to cost; with rising inflation comes an inability for customers to spend as freely as they once may have, making the landscape more competitive. Having said that, as we touched on with growth, sales aren’t necessarily being driven to the same degree due to supply chain disruptions.

Sara Malconian, Chief Procurement Officer at Harvard University & Jim Bureau, CEO of JAGGAER explain how ESG & the Circular Economy is changing the evolution of procurement.

We speak to Sara Malconian, Chief Procurement Officer at Harvard University and Jim Bureau, CEO of JAGGAER to see how ESG and the Circular Economy is changing the evolution of procurement…

Sara, how have you seen your role evolve as a procurement leader over the years as ESG and supplier diversity come into focus? 

Procurement leaders have gone from ‘cost cutters’ to ‘problem solvers’ within their organisations. Our core mandates used to be to drive cost savings and efficiency. We were hyper-focused on getting the most out of the organisation’s spend and supplier relationships. Those priorities haven’t gone away, especially in today’s inflationary environment, but the expectations of the procurement function are significantly higher and broader today. 

Procurement functions saved their companies during COVID and the confluence of disruptions that followed. We showed we are a strategic linchpin. We are now looked upon to drive value and impact and strategically guide our organisations to achieve broader goals, including diversity and environmental, social, governance (ESG). Internal stakeholders realised the benefits of procurement and sought help with advancing their department’s agendas or solving their challenges. We listen to their needs, allocate the right resources, and ultimately enable them and the overall organisation to be successful.  

I’ve been in procurement for over 20 years, and I can honestly say you’d be hard-pressed to find a more rewarding and exciting career. Procurement professionals have a real opportunity to make a tangible difference within their organisations, communities, and the world through the way we source products and services. 

What is Harvard doing to have a positive impact on society? Can you share some examples, Sara?

Across the Harvard community, students, alumni, faculty, and staff are advancing scholarship and teaching on the world’s most significant challenges, and everyone wants to do their part to address inequities. Supplier diversity and inclusion have been a priority for Harvard for years, but we wanted to make even more of an impact and really invest in the growth and development of diverse businesses, especially as the pandemic highlighted inequities and disparities within our communities.

In 2021, we formed the Office for Economic Inclusion & Diversity (OEID), which is dedicated to reaching out to diverse suppliers, giving them opportunities, and providing them with tools, training, and resources to be successful. The office also encourages the use of underrepresented business enterprises (UBEs) in the purchasing of all goods, services, and construction at Harvard and standardises procurement practices with these businesses across the university. 

We’re proud of the work this office is doing. We’re actively training suppliers on Harvard’s policies and how they can work with us. We’re creating a central location for them to access bid and RFP opportunities. UBEs can also apply to be mentored by Harvard Business School students.

We’ve created a dashboard to track and analyse spend with diverse suppliers across all of Harvard’s schools and measure progress over time. Everything we’re doing is aimed at increasing spend with our existing diverse suppliers, as well as the number of diverse suppliers that work with Harvard, and helping these suppliers grow their businesses.

Jim, why is prioritizing ESG and supplier diversity important and what steps can companies take today to progress in their journey? 

Beyond being the right thing to do, investors, boards, regulators, customers, and employees now expect organisations to prioritise ESG and diversity initiatives and walk the talk. There’s also a clear business impact. Supplier diversity drives competitive bidding processes that lead to cost savings. Working with partners who are sustainable and have different ideas and perspectives fuels innovation and creates a competitive advantage. Sourcing from a sustainable and diverse supplier pool also reduces risk by broadening organisations’ access to multiple resources for various materials, products, and services. 

One of the most critical steps companies can take to progress on their ESG journey is to make it clear to suppliers that environmentalism is a priority for their organisation. They will attract suppliers with higher levels of ESG maturity and provide suppliers who are earlier on in their ESG journey with sustainability toolkits and training to help educate them on eco-friendly best practices and sustainability innovations.

This step avoids having to overhaul their supply chain to account for ESG. Strategically managing suppliers by leveraging third-party data, scorecards, and supplier audits are crucial for understanding the ESG risks that suppliers pose and minimizing disruptions by working with them to correct these issues. 

Successful supplier diversity programs start with a top-down culture shift. If a company’s culture isn’t diverse, inclusive, and supportive for all its stakeholders, they won’t be able to drive supplier diversity in a meaningful way. Supplier diversity strategy should map back to company goals and include an executive-level champion to sponsor the program internally and help bring in the resources they need.

Outside of leveraging technology to identify diverse suppliers and build a program, businesses can talk with people who have been in their shoes. They can collaborate with like-minded companies at industry events, engage in relevant LinkedIn groups, and connect with organisations such as the National Minority Supplier Development Council.

Once diverse suppliers are on board, organisations can create a supplier diversity policy that clearly outlines how many diverse suppliers need to be invited to bid for each event to ensure teams are executing on the strategy. Leading supplier diversity programs go beyond simply spending with diverse suppliers to providing mentorship and training them on how to respond to RFPs correctly, as well as creating environments where it’s easier for them to engage. 

Jim, what role does technology play in helping organisations achieve ESG and supplier diversity goals?

Technology is a key enabler of ESG and supplier diversity initiatives. One of the biggest obstacles to supplier diversity and ESG is a lack of reliable supplier data. Suppliers don’t always keep their information up to date in self-service portals. The data procurement teams have isn’t always enriched to the level they need, with insights on diversity status, certifications, and proof of ESG compliance.

Researching and assessing suppliers is tedious and time-consuming, which leads many organisations to skip the verification step. Without this information, organisations don’t have a true picture of the inclusivity and sustainability of their supplier network, which makes it impossible to identify the right partners to source from to meet their ESG and supplier diversity goals and make an impact.

Technology addresses this challenge by automatically collecting, enriching, validating, and integrating the supplier data needed to obtain this level of supply base visibility and make decisions that drive ESG and diversity. AI-powered tools are available to match buyers with specific diverse suppliers who also have the capabilities to help drive ESG objectives and meet broader procurement criteria.

Software that segments the supply base and helps visualise spending with small and diverse suppliers across a variety of classifications is critical for setting benchmarks and measuring progress and ROI. 

Jim and Sara, how do you expect the ESG and diversity conversation to shift and where should procurement leaders focus for the future?

Sara: I expect we’ll see the conversation shift to emphasise measurement. It’s not enough anymore to say you’re committed to ESG – you need to prove it and show demonstrable progress and ROI. Maintaining the momentum on ESG initiatives is hard. Technology is key for setting benchmarks and goals, ensuring accountability for hitting key milestones, and measuring progress and return in a credible way. 

Jim: In a declining economic environment, choices inevitably need to be made. I expect the conversation around ESG will center around where companies can focus to maintain progress on ESG initiatives as financial and economic pressures come to the forefront. While some companies may need to scale back in some areas to preserve cash and resources to navigate a downturn, I’d advise them to be careful about slowing ESG down too much as it will be much harder to catch up to current levels after the economy bounces back.

I’d argue that when ESG is done right it can be a strategic lever for navigating a down economy, saving organizations money and resources, driving innovation, and helping them achieve broader business objectives and resilience. 

Expert analysis of the tech trends set to make waves this year

Digital transformation is a continuing journey of change with no set final destination. This makes predicting tomorrow a challenge when no one has a crystal ball to hand.

After a difficult few years for most businesses following a disruptive pandemic and now battling a cost-of-living crisis, many enterprises are increasingly leveraging new types of technology to gain an edge in a disruptive world. 

With this in mind, here are what experts predict for the next 12 months…


1. Process Mining


Sam Attias, Director of Product Marketing at Celonis

Sam Attias, Director of Product Marketing at Celonis, expects to see a rise in the adoption of process mining as it evolves to incorporate automation capabilities. He says process mining has traditionally been “a data science done in isolation” which helps companies identify hidden inefficiencies by extracting data and visually representing it.

“It is now evolving to become more prescriptive than descriptive and will empower businesses to simulate new methods and processes in order to estimate success and error rates, as well as recommend actions before issues actually occur,” says Attias. “It will fix inefficiencies in real-time through automation and execution management.”


2. The evolution of social robots


Gabriel Aguiar Noury, Robotics Product Manager at Canonical

Gabriel Aguiar Noury, Robotics Product Manager at Canonical, anticipates social robots to return this year. After companies such as Sony introduced robots like Poiq, Aguiar Noury believes it “sets the stage” for a new wave of social robots. 

“Powered by natural language generation models like GPT-3, robots can create new dialogue systems,” he says. “This will improve the robot’s interactivity with humans, allowing robots to answer any question. 

3d rendering cute artificial intelligence robot with empty note

“Social robots will also build narratives and rich personalities, making interaction with users more meaningful. GPT-3 also powers Dall-E, an image generator. Combined, these types of technologies will enable robots not only to tell but show dynamic stories.”


3. The rebirth of new data-powered business applications


In today’s fast-moving world, technology doesn’t sleep. Through the help of experts, we’ve compiled a need-to-know list of 23 predictions for 2023

Christian Kleinerman, Senior Vice President of Product at Snowflake, says there is the beginning of a “renaissance” in software development. He believes developers will bring their applications to central combined sources of data instead of the “traditional approach” of copying data into applications. 

“Every single application category, whether it’s horizontal or specific to an industry vertical, will be reinvented by the emergence of new data-powered applications,” affirms Kleinerman. “This rise of data-powered applications will represent massive opportunities for all different types of developers, whether they’re working on a brand-new idea for an application and a business based on that app, or they’re looking for how to expand their existing software operations.”


4. Application development will become a two-way conversation


Adrien Treuille, Head of Streamlit at Snowflake

Adrien Treuille, Head of Streamlit at Snowflake, believes application development will become a two-way conversation between producers and consumers. It is his belief that the advent of easy-to-use low-code or no-code platforms are already “simplifying the building” and sharing of interactive applications for tech-savvy and business users. 

“Based on that foundation, the next emerging shift will be a blurring of the lines between two previously distinct roles — the application producer and the consumer of that software.”

He adds that application development will become a collaborative workflow where consumers can weigh in on the work producers are doing in real-time. “Taking this one step further, we’re heading towards a future where app development platforms have mechanisms to gather app requirements from consumers before the producer has even started creating that software.”


5. The Metaverse


Paul Hardy, EMEA Innovation Officer at ServiceNow

Paul Hardy, EMEA Innovation Officer at ServiceNow, says he expects business leaders to adopt technologies such as the metaverse in 2023. The aim of this is to help cultivate and maintain employee engagement as businesses continue working in hybrid environments, in an increasingly challenging macro environment.

“Given the current economic climate, adoption of the metaverse may be slow, but in the future, a network of 3D virtual worlds will be used to foster meaningful social connections, creating new experiences for employees and reinforcing positive culture within organisations,” he says. “Hybrid work has made employee engagement more challenging, as it can be difficult to communicate when employees are not together in the same room. 

“Leaders have begun to see the benefit of hosting traditional training and development sessions using VR and AI-enhanced coaching. In the next few years, we will see more workplaces go a step beyond this, for example, offering employees the chance to earn recognition in the form of tokens they can spend in the real or virtual world, gamifying the experience.”


6. The year of ESG?


Cathy Mauzaize, Vice President, EMEA South, at ServiceNow

Cathy Mauzaize, Vice President, EMEA South, at ServiceNow, believes 2023 could be the year that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) is vital to every company’s strategy.

“Failure to engage appropriate investment in ESG strategies could plunge any organisation into a crisis,” she says. “Legislation must be respected and so must the expectations of employees, investors and your ecosystem of partners and customers.

“ESG is not just a tick box, one and done, it’s a new way of business that will see us through 2023 and beyond.”


7. Macro Trends and Redeploying Budgets for Efficiency


Ulrik Nehammer, President, EMEA at ServiceNow, says organisations are facing an incredibly complex and volatile macro environment. Nehammer explains as the world is gripped by soaring inflation, intelligent digital investments can be a huge deflationary force.

“Business leaders are already shifting investment focus to technologies that will deliver outcomes faster,” he says. “Going into 2023, technology will become increasingly central to business success – in fact, 95% of CEOs are already pursuing a digital-first strategy according to IDC’s CEO survey, as digital companies deliver revenue growth far faster than non-digital ones.”  


8. Organisations will have adopted a NaaS strategy


David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer

David Hughes, Aruba’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, believes that by the end of 2023, 20% of organisations will have adopted a network-as-a-service (NaaS) strategy.

“With tightening economic conditions, IT requires flexibility in how network infrastructure is acquired, deployed, and operated to enable network teams to deliver business outcomes rather than just managing devices,” he says. “Migration to a NaaS framework enables IT to accelerate network modernisation yet stay within budget, IT resource, and schedule constraints. 

“In addition, adopting a NaaS strategy will help organisations meet sustainability objectives since leading NaaS suppliers have adopted carbon-neutral and recycling manufacturing strategies.”


9. Think like a seasonal business


According to Patrick Bossman, Product Manager at MariaDB corporation, he anticipates 2023 to be the year that the ability to “scale out on command” is going to be at the fore of companies’ thoughts.

“Organisations will need the infrastructure in place to grow on command and scale back once demand lowers,” he says. “The winners in 2023 will be those who understand that all business is seasonal, and all companies need to be ready for fluctuating demand.”


10. Digital platforms need to adapt to avoid falling victim to subscription fatigue


Demed L’Her, Chief Technology Officer at DigitalRoute

Demed L’Her, Chief Technology Officer at DigitalRoute, suggests what the subscription market is going to look like in 2023 and how businesses can avoid falling victim to ‘subscription fatigue’.  L’Her says there has been a significant drop in demand since the pandemic.

“Insider’s latest research shows that as of August, nearly a third (30%) of people reported cancelling an online subscription service in the past six months,” he reveals. “This is largely due to the rising cost of living experienced globally that is leaving households with reduced budgets for luxuries like digital subscriptions. Despite this, the subscription market is far from dead, with most people retaining some despite tightened budgets. 

“However, considering the ongoing economic challenges, businesses need to consider adapting if they are to be retained by customers in the long term. The key to this is ensuring that the product adds value to the life of the customer.”


11. Waking up to browser security 


Jonathan Lee, Senior Product Manager at Menlo Security

Jonathan Lee, Senior Product Manager at Menlo Security, points to the web browser being the biggest attack surface and suggests the industry is “waking up” to the fact of where people spend the most time.

“Vendors are now looking at ways to add security controls directly inside the browser,” explains Lee. “Traditionally, this was done either as a separate endpoint agent or at the network edge, using a firewall or secure web gateway. The big players, Google and Microsoft, are also in on the act, providing built-in controls inside Chrome and Edge to secure at a browser level rather than the network edge. 

“But browser attacks are increasing, with attackers exploiting new and old vulnerabilities, and developing new attack methods like HTML Smuggling. Remote browser isolation is becoming one of the key principles of Zero Trust security where no device or user – not even the browser – can be trusted.”


12. The year of quantum-readiness


Tim Callan, Chief Experience Officer at Sectigo

Tim Callan, Chief Experience Officer at Sectigo, predicts that 2023 will be the year of quantum-readiness. He believes that as a result of the standardisation of new quantum-safe algorithms expected to be in place by 2024, this year will be a year of action for government bodies, technology vendors, and enterprise IT leaders to prepare for the deployment.

“In 2022, the US National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) selected a set of post-quantum algorithms for the industry to standardise on as we move toward our quantum-safe future,” says Callan.

“In 2023, standards bodies like the IETF and many others must work to incorporate these algorithms into their own guidelines to enable secure functional interoperability across broad sets of software, hardware, and digital services. Providers of these hardware, software, and service products must follow the relevant guidelines as they are developed and begin preparing their technology, manufacturing, delivery, and service models to accommodate updated standards and the new algorithms.” 


13. AI: fewer keywords, greater understanding


AI expert Dr Pieter Buteneers, Director of AI and Machine Learning at Sinch

AI expert Dr Pieter Buteneers, Director of AI and Machine Learning at Sinch, expects artificial intelligence to continue to transition away from keywords and move towards an increased level of understanding.

“Language-agnostic AI, already existent within certain AI and chatbot platforms, will understand hundreds of languages — and even interchange them within a single search or conversation — because it’s not learning language like you or I would,” he says. “This advanced AI instead focuses on meaning, and attaches code to words accordingly, so language is more of a finishing touch than the crux of a conversation or search query. 

“Language-agnostic AI will power stronger search results — both from external (the internet) and internal (a company database) sources — and less robotic chatbot conversations, enabling companies to lean on automation to reduce resources and strain on staff and truly trust their AI.”


14. Rise in digital twin technology in the enterprise


John Hill, CEO and Founder of Silico

John Hill, CEO and Founder of Silico, recognises the growing influence digital twin technology is having in the market. Hill predicts that in the next 20 years, there will be a digital twin of every complex enterprise in the world and anticipates the next generation of decision-makers will routinely use forward-looking simulations and scenario analytics to plan and optimise their business outcomes.

“Digital twin technology is one of the fastest-growing facets of industry 4.0 and while we’re still at the dawn of digital twin technology,” he explains. “Digital twins will have huge implications for unlocking our ability to plan and manage the complex organisations so crucial for our continued economic progress and underpin the next generation of Intelligent Enterprise Automation.”


15. Broader tech security


Tricentis CEO, Kevin Thompson

With an exponential amount of data at companies’ fingertips, Tricentis CEO, Kevin Thompson says the need for investment in secure solutions is paramount.

“The general public has become more aware of the access companies have to their personal data, leading to the impending end of third-party cookies, and other similar restrictions on data sharing,” he explains. “However, security issues still persist. The persisting influx of new data across channels and servers introduces greater risk of infiltration by bad actors, especially for enterprise software organisations that have applications in need of consistent testing and updates. The potential for damage increases as iterations are being made with the expanding attack surface. 

“Now, the reality is a matter of when, not if, your organisation will be the target of an attack. To combat this rising security concern, organisations will need to integrate security within the development process from the very beginning. Integrating security and compliance testing at the upfront will greatly reduce risk and prevent disruptions.”


16. Increased cyber resilience 


Michael Adams, CISO at Zoom

Michael Adams, CISO at Zoom, expects an increased focus on cyber resilience over the next 12 months. “While protecting organisations against cyber threats will always be a core focus area for security programs, we can expect an increased focus on cyber resilience, which expands beyond protection to include recovery and continuity in the event of a cyber incident,” explains Adams.

“It’s not only investing resources in protecting against cyber threats; it’s investing in the people, processes, and technology to mitigate impact and continue operations in the event of a cyber incident.” 


17. Ransomware threats


Michal Salat, Threat Intelligence Director at Avast

As data leaks become increasingly common place in the industry, companies face a very real threat of ransomware. Michal Salat, Threat Intelligence Director at Avast, believes the time is now for businesses to protect themselves or face recovery fees costing millions of dollars.

“Ransomware attacks themselves are already an individual’s and businesses’ nightmare. This year, we saw cybergangs threatening to publicly publish their targets’ data if a ransom isn’t paid, and we expect this trend to only grow in 2023,” says Salat. “This puts people’s personal memories at risk and poses a double risk for businesses. Both the loss of sensitive files, plus a data breach, can have severe consequences for their business and reputation.”


18. Intensified supply chain attacks 


Dirk Schrader, VP of security research at Netwrix

Dirk Schrader, VP of security research at Netwrix, believes supply chain attacks are set to increase in the coming year. “Modern organisations rely on complex supply chains, including small and medium businesses (SMBs) and managed service providers (MSPs),” he says.

“Adversaries will increasingly target these suppliers rather than the larger enterprises knowing that they provide a path into multiple partners and customers. To address this threat, organisations of all sizes, while conducting a risk assessment, need to take into account the vulnerabilities of all third-party software or firmware.”


19. A greater need to manage volatility 


Paul Milloy, Business Consultant at Intradiem, stresses the importance of managing volatility in an ever-moving market. Milloy believes bosses can utilise data through automation to foresee potential problems before they become issues.

“No one likes surprises. Whilst Ben Franklin suggested nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes, businesses will want to automate as many of their processes as possible to help manage volatility in 2023,” he explains. “Data breeds intelligence, and intelligence breeds insight. Managers can use the data available from workforce automation tools to help them manage peaks and troughs better to avoid unexpected resource bottlenecks.”


20. A human AI co-pilot will still be needed


Artem Kroupenev, VP of Strategy at Augury, predicts that within the next few years, every profession will be enhanced with hybrid intelligence, and have an AI co-pilot which will operate alongside human workers to deliver more accurate and nuanced work at a much faster pace. 

“These co-pilots are already being deployed with clear use cases in mind to support specific roles and operational needs, like AI-driven solutions that enable reliability engineers to ensure production uptime, safety and sustainability through predictive maintenance,” he says. “However, in 2023, we will see these co-pilots become more accurate, more trusted and more ingrained across the enterprise. 

“Executives will better understand the value of AI co-pilots to make critical business decisions, and as a key competitive differentiator, and will drive faster implementation across their operations. The AI co-pilot technology will be more widespread next year, and trust and acceptance will increase as people see the benefits unfold.”


21. Building the right workplace culture


Harnessing a positive workplace culture is no easy task but in 2023 with remote and hybrid working now the norm, it brings with it new challenges. Tony McCandless, Chief Technology Officer at SS&C Blue Prism, is well aware of the role organisational culture can play in any digital transformation journey.

Workers are the heart of an organisation, so without their buy in, no digital transformation initiative stands a chance of success,” explains McCandless. “Workers drive home business objectives, and when it comes to digital transformation, they are the ones using, implementing, and sometimes building automations. Curiosity, innovation, and the willingness to take risks are essential ingredients to transformative digitalisation. 

“Businesses are increasingly recognising that their workers play an instrumental role in determining whether digitalisation initiatives are successful. Fostering the right work environment will be a key focus point for the year ahead – not only to cultivate buy-in but also to improve talent retention and acquisition, as labor supply issues are predicted to continue into 2023 and beyond.”


22. Cloud cover to soften recession concerns


Amid a cost-of-living crisis and concerns over any potential recession as a result, Daniel Thomasson, VP of Engineering and R&D at Keysight Technologies, says more companies will shift data intensive tasks to the cloud to reduce infrastructure and operational costs.

“Moving applications to the cloud will also help organisations deliver greater data-driven customer experiences,” he affirms. “For example, advanced simulation and test data management capabilities such as real-time feature extraction and encryption will enable use of a secure cloud-based data mesh that will accelerate and deepen customer insights through new algorithms operating on a richer data set. In the year ahead, expect the cloud to be a surprising boom for companies as they navigate economic uncertainty.”


23. IoT devices to scale globally


Dr Raullen Chai, CEO and Co-Founder of IoTeX, recognises a growing trend in the usage of IoT devices worldwide and believes connectivity will increase significantly. 

“For decades, Big Tech has monopolised user data, but with the advent of Web3, we will see more and more businesses and smart device makers beginning to integrate blockchain for device connectivity as it enables people to also monetise their data in many different ways, including in marketing data pools, medical research pools and more,” he explains. “We will see a growth in decentralised applications that allow users to earn a modest additional revenue from everyday activities, such as walking, sleeping, riding a bike or taking the bus instead of driving, or driving safely in exchange for rewards. 

“Living healthy lifestyles will also become more popular via decentralised applications for smart devices, especially smart watches and other health wearables.”

Majority of European suppliers not being asked to prove they protect against labour violations, while 76% of UK suppliers are unprepared for new changes to the Modern Slavery Act…

Research from Ivalua, a leading global spend management cloud provider, has revealed more than half (58%) of European suppliers said buyers rarely or never include responsible labour practices in contracts or agreements. The report also identified a lack of consistent monitoring of labour standards. Just half (50%) of European suppliers said they are frequently asked by their buyers to provide proof that they protect against unsafe working conditions. These figures were even lower for other labour standards such as child labour (47%), modern slavery (45%), and below minimum wage pay (42%).

The study, conducted by Coleman Parkes Research, surveyed 300 suppliers across the UK, France, Germany and Switzerland to explore labour standards throughout the supply chain. The findings show that buyers are not enforcing standards for responsible labour practices, with over three quarters (78%) of European suppliers reporting they don’t have fully implemented plans in place to detect and eliminate modern slavery in their supply chains.

In the UK, organisations are facing more pressure to identify unethical labour practices. The UK government has proposed new amendments to the Modern Slavery Act, to include fines and even prison sentences for the most serious cases of unethical labour practices in the supply chain. However, most organisations are unprepared for this, with over three quarters (76%) of UK suppliers not implementing plans to mitigate the risk of fines due to the proposed changes.                        

“Combatting poor labour practices must not be treated as a “box-checking exercise”. As regulations get tougher, organisations must keep track, as the business impact of unethical labour standards can be extremely damaging,” commented Alex Saric, CMO at Ivalua. “The responsibility to tackle unethical labour practices extends to the entire supply chain, from buyers all the way to downstream suppliers. But change starts at the top, and buyers need to start the conversation with suppliers early to make it clear that poor labour practices will no longer be tolerated. Incentives could be offered, but the message should be clear: we will only work with suppliers that have certifiable labour standards.”

With regulations becoming tougher, and responsible labour becoming a more pressing concern for policy makers, investors and consumers, organisations are increasingly recognising the need to work alongside suppliers to improve their labour standards. This means collaborating with immediate suppliers – as well as their suppliers’ suppliers – to drive long-term positive change.

However, the majority of suppliers are not fully prepared to root out unethical labour practices. According to the report, suppliers currently do not have plans in place to eliminate below minimum wage pay (77%), child labour (76%), unsafe working conditions (75%) or unreasonable working hours (78%).

“The responsibility to identify and eliminate unethical labour falls on every tier of the supply chain. But buyers must bolster their ESG strategies to drive meaningful change and reduce the risk of non-compliance,” notes Saric. “To make this a reality, procurement must get smarter. Crucially, organisations must have adequate data to identify and avoid partners with unethical labour practices. They require 360-degree visibility of their immediate suppliers, sub-tier suppliers, and subcontractors. To do this, organisations must have the right tools in place to ensure the reliability of data, and facilitate timely and effective decision-making. Otherwise, instances of poor labour standards can easily slip through the net.”

To download the Ivalua 2021 Responsible Labour Report, “Combatting unethical labour: How organisations can collaborate with suppliers to uphold working standards”, please visit: https://info.ivalua.com/uk/report-responsible-labour