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When Scott Strickland interviewed for his job as CIO of Wyndham Hotel Group in the spring of 2017, the executive committee was focused on standardizing processes and technologies across 20 brands (including Ramada, Super 8, Days Inn, and Howard Johnsons), which had been operating fairly autonomously.  

So, Strickland took the job and spent the first nine months continuing the journey that had been started around standardizing the entire company on five platforms: central reservations, property management, service and sales, digital marketing, and data warehousing. Since the hotel group was opening roughly two new hotels a day, the new architecture would provide the scalability and flexibility to support that kind of aggressive growth.

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Cloud technology and the increasing pace of globalization allow small and mid-size businesses to scale faster than ever, but also puts them in a bind. How do they take advantage of opportunities to grow when they have limited resources?

At its annual SuiteWorld event, in Las Vegas this week, NetSuite is offering some answers. The SaaS ERP company is, among other things, bringing on software partners with expertise in global tax regimes, offering a planning and budgeting service, adding analytics tools for its product family, enhancing its line of SuiteSuccess preconfigured, vertical-market cloud applications, and coming out with new APIs.

In the wake of its 2016, $9.3 billion acquisition by Oracle, NetSuite has refined its focus on targeting fast-growing, vertical-market SMBs, which it defines as companies with between $1 million and $200 million in revenue.

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Several weeks ago, I got to visit a Global 50 manufacturer. This organization had a very complex supply chain and manufacturing locations and vendor relationships across the world. It needed to govern the data that flowed between suppliers, customers, and even internal organizations. And it was not appropriate for everyone to see everything.

In the middle of this conversation, the manufacturer discussed the depth of their clouds and cloud vendor relationships and the problems that multi-cloud presented to their organization. Given this, I decided it was time to dig-in on multi-cloud with the #CIOChat.

How many layers of cloud do you have internally and externally?

CIOs had differing answers based upon the complexity of their organizations. Some said that they really don’t think about having a "cloud fabric." These CIOs use a small number of cloud providers. For them, there are few internal and external providers. Given this, they don’t believe there are layers unless an organization is running hybrid (by virtue several clouds) or there are silos of data located across the organization.

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We all know the benefits that APIs can bring in getting the right data to the right people at the right time. There are enough tools out there to make offering API access to your data a relatively easy experience. However, a common problem has been too great a focus on sorting out the technical issues, often at the expense of building a compelling business case for having an API in the first place.

A closer integration with core business objectives and the commercial needs of the organization can help design better APIs as well as increase the likelihood of internal funding approval. Here are five ways your company’s or product’s business model may benefit from incorporating an API.

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Agility is highly sought-after in today's business environment. As such, enterprises are now aggressively leveraging the efficiencies brought about by technology to drive their processes. And why not? Digital tools empower future-facing companies to perform better than laggards. A Harvard study shows that “digital leader” organizations enjoy a three-year average gross margin of 55 percent, while laggards only post 37 percent.

The decision on whether or not to go digital has essentially become moot. Instead, organizations now typically face the choice of whether to make either incremental or disruptive changes as part of their digital transformation efforts.

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If you have any doubts that digital transformation is top of mind for IT executives, just take a look at what they're buying. Spending on enterprise software, particularly cloud services and applications, is expected to grow faster than any other category of IT this year, fueling an overall increase in global spending on technology.

That's according to a report from market research and consultancy firm Gartner, released today, that forecasts a 3.2 percent rise to $3.77 trillion in worldwide spending on IT.

[ Comparison shopping? See "The best ERP systems:10 enterprise resource planning systems compared," with evaluations and user reviews. | Learn why companies are increasingly moving to cloud ERP and how to spot the 10 early warning signs of ERP disaster. | Get weekly insights by signing up for our CIO Leader newsletter. ]

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Being the CIO of a cloud ERP provider is a unique balancing act. As the first customer of your company’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) offering, you must help drive the company’s flagship forward, but you also must support the technical needs of the organization as a whole.

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(Insider Story)
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Today’s competitive business landscape has companies looking to technology to find some advantage. Many are compelled to undergo digital transformation to become more efficient in their business processes. But even newer companies often struggle to determine what components ought to comprise their “tech stacks.”

For smaller ventures, this process can be especially overwhelming. With limited resources, leaders and IT officers of these smaller operations have to effectively manage how they adopt and implement various digital solutions. This forces some to keep things analog or make do with the limited functionalities of traditional on-premises and offline solutions.

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Over ten years ago, five credit unions came together and formed a credit union service organization (CUSO). A majority interest was held by one, very large credit union, which owned all of the technology, had a full-time IT staff and was running an online banking system. The other players were much smaller credit unions that couldn't afford their own systems or IT staffs. Together, these credit unions formed a technology company that was organized as an S corporation. The company was designed to retain very little profit, but instead to pass on any savings to its participating credit union members. Every founding credit union had a seat on this company’s board, although board control was held by the largest credit union.

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With a refresh of its cloud analytics tools, SAP hopes to bring users new insights into their data more quickly and take some of the workload off the IT department.

It’s not that the previous analytics tools were all that slow; it’s just that to get the most out of some of their features, you needed a team of data scientists to build the right reports.

[ Learn the secrets of highly successful data analytics teams. | Beware the 12 myths of data analytics and the sure-fire ways organizations fail at data analytics. | Get the latest on data analytics by signing up for CIO newsletters. ]

Now the company is using machine learning to help SAP Analytics Cloud users zoom in on key data correlations, according to Mike Flannagan, SAP’s senior vice president of analytics.

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