It’s no secret that digital transformation is a reality. There is no doubt: Every company, no matter the size or industry, must tackle the challenges and opportunities the digital era offers.
At SAP, we are managing our own digital transformation by using the innovations of our own software; unquestionably, SAP runs SAP. As chief operating officer, I want to make SAP a role model for the intelligent enterprise using all the great opportunities that come with the digital era. Ultimately, we all are striving for the same goals — we all want to enable innovative business models, we all want to serve new customer expectations, we all want intelligence in our processes, we all want to unleash the power of data. We all want to win.
Undoubtedly, we all know that if we don’t manage to adapt to current and upcoming changes, the wave of digitalization might be too big for us to surf.
The question is twofold: how can we at SAP manage this wave and how can we support our customers in doing so, making sure that we all succeed?
Digital transformation will only be successful when we seamlessly connect people, processes, system data, and analytics. First, the customer has to be the center of what we think and do. Offering high-quality products and services is not enough anymore, it’s about innovative digital business models and the customer experience as a whole. Second, engaging with employees brings a huge range of benefits that cannot be ignored. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, productivity tends to improve by 20 to 25 percent in organizations where employees are connected through social technologies.
Everything Starts With Processes
Digital transformation starts with processes; not very sexy, but definitely significant. To enable innovative digital business models, we need to analyze, adapt, and possibly rethink our processes. And for every business model, we need to deliver a seamless customer experience from the very first marketing touch point to a seamless buying experience across all devices and channels, followed by a fast implementation to ensure rapid time to value and then — most importantly — a post-sales experience that keeps our customers happy for life. We must utilize the power of our data; we need to align the data architecture to bring intelligence into our processes.
At the same time, it is about fighting the complexity for the employees. We need to bring automation and intelligence into our processes so that colleagues can spend more time on high value-adding tasks.
All of this needs to be supported by a holistic enterprise architecture covering all application areas as one. Right from the beginning it was clear that SAP Cloud Platform — an open platform-as-a-service that provides in-memory capabilities, core platform services, and unique business services for building and extending personalized, collaborative, mobile-enabled cloud applications — will be essential to manage our transformation as it allows both our customers and us to drive process integration and data integration at the same time. No other company has the capability to offer a connected front and back office like SAP can. By connecting the front office with the back office, we enable real-time steering and real-time analytics — one important step toward the realization of the intelligent enterprise.
Having talked a lot about the theory and the hard facts, we should never forget that people are key to turning the promises that digital transformation holds into a reality. Since a holistic business transformation is also a huge change management project, it is essential that all stakeholders are involved in the right way. To succeed, we also need to drive a cultural change within the company. Each and every colleague needs to be onboard with the mission and vision.
It’s About Building Bridges
Regardless of our specific lines of business, industries, and regions, we all face the same challenges and I am sure you are already very familiar with them. To succeed, it’s key to stop considering single processes and instead to view all the processes in a company as ONE. If we want to surf the wave of digitalization, we have to build bridges and stop thinking in silos. We have to rethink business end to end.
If you want to learn more about how SAP can support you in managing the digital transformation, visit our Run Simple area of sap.com. Transformation is never easy, and turning into a truly intelligent enterprise is not something that can be achieved overnight. As Vidal Sassoon said: “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.”
So let’s get to it – take out your surfboards and master the wave of digitalization.
Christian Klein is Chief Operating Officer and Member of the Executive Board of SAP SE. Follow him on Twitter: @ChrstnKlein