Have you ever tried changing into a new pair of high tech shoes while running and still winning the race? That’s what companies have to do to transform successfully in the digital age. So what’s the best way to go about it?

Digital transformation is about using technology to radically improve performance and increase the reach of an enterprise, and it’s a hot topic for companies of all sizes all around the world. Experts say there are three key areas where enterprises need to transform: customer experience, operational processes and business models. The trick is to keep running without stopping to adjust for these changes. SAP Cloud Platform helps companies do that successfully.

The Bi-Modal Approach

“In order to succeed in the digital economy, every company must become a software-driven company,” says  Bjoern Goerke, president of SAP Cloud Platform, SAP SE.

Intelligent enterprises take a bi-modal approach to this complex task.

“Companies need to ensure that non-differentiating, core business processes run smoothly, and at the same time, they need to quickly roll-out innovative software solutions to gain and maintain a competitive edge. This concept has been labelled bimodal IT, or IT pace-layering by Gartner and others. Mode 1 refers to streamlining core business processes based on standardised software and leveraging real-time analytical insights to optimise how a company runs. Mode 2 focuses on business innovation and lowering the time-to-market roll-out of custom-built cloud applications,” says Goerke.

For example, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been running its central administrative processes on R/3 for two decades. Being a forward-looking organization, MIT’s Emerging Solutions group decided to experiment with new technologies, but they didn’t want to touch the systems running the daily business. When they found out that end users no longer want to interact with inconsistent screens, they decided to create a common user interface across different applications.  The team built an app on SAP Cloud Platform to manage graduate student assignments showing that it is easy to enhance mature IT systems with new technologies to meet user demands.

SAP Cloud Platform: Intelligent Connections

SAP has three strategic pillars to enable companies to transform using the bi-modal approach. SAP S4/HANA enables companies to function in Mode 1, in other words, to keep running smoothly. SAP Cloud Platform, formerly known as SAP HANA Cloud Platform, is for innovating in Mode 2 to connect people, things and business. SAP HANA, the third pillar, is the in-memory, data platform.

Bjoern Goerke explains why SAP HANA Cloud Platform was relaunched as SAP Cloud Platform this week at the Mobile World Congress.

“While SAP has pledged to be more empathetic to customers especially when it comes to renaming solutions, sometimes it is necessary to avoid confusion,” he says.

“In the past, people primarily associated SAP HANA Cloud Platform with SAP HANA in a cloud environment. This became a misperception as the platform steadily transformed to become SAP’s agile innovation platform in the cloud. While SAP HANA is a key element of SAP Cloud Platform, during the last five years the product evolved into a comprehensive enterprise platform-as-a-service offering that simplifies the development and operation of new cloud applications. It also enables customers to build extensions for existing SAP solutions, both on-premise and SaaS,” he explains.

Transforming Business Models

SAP Cloud Platform has become the designated extension and integration platform for SAP’s entire portfolio. It is the technical foundation for an entire set of new applications and SAP product lines evolving around IoT, machine learning, Big Data, and multi-cloud delivery models.

Some companies are already taking full advantage of the platform. MAPAL, a leading provider of precision tools and machining solutions, has built an open cloud platform, called c-Com, based on SAP Cloud Platform. The platform was built to manage tool data for parts, like precision drills, and to digitally link customers and suppliers allowing for a more cost-effective purchasing process and optimized stock levels for tools.

The platform is also used by suppliers to offer additional services such the integration of machine data from the customer’s shop floor. MAPAL did not build the platform just for their own purposes and for their own customers. Instead, they created an open platform that can be used by other tool suppliers as well.

MAPAL is no longer just a tool company. Now it is a software company offering cloud based solutions for tool data management.