Tuesday, June 15, 2021

SAPPHIRE NOW 2021 – Digital Transformation in a Pandemic Year

From our vantage in the APOS virtual booth, we saw plenty of excitement over the direction in which SAP and its partner ecosystem is moving. We are proud to be a long-time member of that ecosystem, and it was good to see that some of the SAP customers mentioned during the keynote address are already APOS customers.

Digital Transformation & the SAP Partner Ecosystem

As SAP CEO Christian Klein noted in his keynote address, The Enterprise in an Age of Networks, digital transformation has become an overused term. Its overuse is a sign of its importance, and we should not lose sight of what it actually means for organizations and the communities of suppliers and customers that make up their networks.

Organizations embarking on a path of digital transformation need a clear strategy regarding the transformation of their business processes, and what technology can do to help them in that transformation. Organizations that succeed in such transformation know that the technology plays an important part, but only so far as it helps them reach their strategic objectives. Technology can help them re-imagine their business processes strategically.

SAP has clearly embraced their role to power digital transformation and global networks with S/4HANA and many other pieces of core and peripheral technology. The role of the SAP partner ecosystem is to support digital transformation with specific solutions to the specific requirements organizations need to meet to fulfill their strategic and tactical vision for SAP technology in their digital transformation.

Three Key Insights from the Keynote Address

The global pandemic has hit the world hard, but we can celebrate the successes of businesses that have managed to adapt quickly and meet the rapidly changing needs of supply chains and customers around the world. Technology has assisted in that adaptation, but as Christian Klein notes, “Any crisis is ultimately solved by people.” We celebrate the way that people have employed technology to hold communities and families together, as well as how they have used it to help businesses adapt quickly.

We can also celebrate lessons learned from the pandemic, particularly concerning the fragility of what we have come to regard as normal, and our collective responsibility to make transformation serve sustainability, and these lessons are integral to Christian Klein’s three key insights.

Insight One: Transform Holistically into an Intelligent Enterprise

The most resilient companies are those that embrace change and transform their business focus to meet emerging conditions. Holistic digital transformation comes from seeing the organization’s processes in their totality and integrating them to bring about an intelligent enterprise. To succeed, such companies must have the courage to leave traditional business models behind and radically change how their businesses run.

Insight Two: Connect Intelligent Enterprises into Networks

Business does not happen in isolation. We win when we win together as an interconnected community. This pandemic year has seen many disruptions in global supply chains, and each disruption is costly. Each disruption underlines the value of the network, and the need for real-time supply chain transparency. SAP’s objective is to create the world’s largest and most comprehensive business network, reinventing how the world runs, and leveraging the value in community membership.

Insight Three: Drive Sustainability Across the Network

The fragility of global supply chains is not separate from the fragility of the planet itself. Moving forward, we must re-imagine the global supply chain as an integral part of the effort to attain sustainability, reach zero carbon emissions, zero waste, and zero inequality. As Christian Klein phrased it: “making profitability sustainable, and sustainability profitable.” Emissions, waste, and inequality are costs to be reduced.

It may be that this pandemic year is an inflection point in the history of how we do business. It is a certainty that we will not return to yesterday’s business as usual. SAP’s declared mission is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives, and that is something we can all aspire to.


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