In my role as COO at itelligence, I have a comprehensive view of both sides—the customer perspective and the SAP perspective as a leading software vendor. As you might know, because they are stressing this strapline rather frequently, SAP’s vision is to make the world “Run Simple.” They are pushing technology into the business world to pursue this vision. Since the business environment is evolving more and more into an integrated network with sophisticated process landscapes from shop floor to the customer doorstep (or far beyond), it is quite challenging to catch the immediate use of trends that are driven by SAP. For this reason, I would like to introduce you to some of the key trends of 2017 that any executive should be aware of.
The technology itself is not that new, but its importance is skyrocketing. SAP’s goal is to forcefully move customers from their on-premise architectures to the cloud. Indeed, cloud solutions gives access to flexibility and innovation. Flexibility and agility is key for IT — volatile markets challenge any sort of business and technology is in the majority of the cases the driver of that change. Cloud solutions are scalable, faster to implement and avoid huge upfront investments with monthly or quarterly subscriptions. Customers benefit from the latest software innovations by regular updates and functional extensions. A good example is SAP’s new flagship product, SAP S/4HANA. New innovations in S/4HANA will be shipped each quarter to its cloud customers first before the new on-premise release comes to the market one time per year.
Digital Business Processes
Digital processes enable vertical as well as horizontal process integration. That’s a fact. So, open platforms and standards has become a vital characteristic of all modern ERP solutions. SAP worked hard on this issue. With the SAP Cloud Platform, they are providing a platform that connects everyone and everything that is part of your value chain. Think of co-innovations as a result of deep collaboration with business partners to meet future customer requirements. Or digital services that complete your portfolio and allow your revenue to keep growing. Note that SAP, itself, is a co-innovator. In this year alone, they announced collaborations with Google, Apple, Microsoft and IBM.
How many days per week do you spend at your desk at the office? How much permanent information do you need to make decisions or to act proactively? Mobile access to information from anywhere at any time supports you in performing those tasks with excellence. SAP developed the Fiori UX, Lumira and Screen Personas to provide a user experience that is as desirable as the apps you are used on your mobile phone or tablet. One example of this is the direct capturing of orders in the field at the customer site. No more handwritten notes for internal sales employees to decipher and no more entering orders manually in the system. The customer benefits from near-time quotes and the avoidance of content failures due to media disruption.
Simulate finance scenarios, predict cases of failure of machines sold, and much more. The whole predictive topic is about to transform business models and processes. Ground for this source of information builds the analysis of tons of data. SAP HANA is an in-memory, technology-based database management system that has the capacity to deal with these amounts of data. Edge computing in cooperation with Hadoop is even possible. Some people say that data is the new oil. I believe that a smart approach to using data is of vital importance for the coming years.
According to the World Economic Forum, 10% of GDP will be stored through Blockchain by 2027. We are talking about the way the world will conduct transactions in the future. Blockchain is leveraging the distributed ledger technology that records data, e.g., files, information and transactions. Today, it is popularly known as the protocol for digital bitcoin currency. Over the next few years, experts expect that businesses will apply Blockchain to digitally-based international operations documentation, e.g., to validate customs documents, contracts, and so on. SAP offers BaaS (Blockchain as a Service), and focuses mainly on four key areas: supply chain, public sector, energy utilities, and financial services. The major benefit is that it offers a secure way to transfer valid data across sites and countries in near real-time. SAP says that a Blockchain-assisted money transfer takes only 20 seconds.
Transform Trends to Results
As an executive, you have to look at the challenges that will affect your business tomorrow. Your success is manifested in acting proactively. Take the trends listed above as inspiration and feel free to breathe life into them.