Efficiency and speed is the name of the game when increasing the digital intelligence of a business.

But, the bar for success is continuously shifting as technologies become more ubiquitous and business operations grow more diverse. With the headache of ever-changing expectations comes the risk of setting up intentional barriers that could inhibit future opportunity for groundbreaking innovation.

In light of this reality, evolving a business into an intelligent enterprise is more than just a technical upgrade. Its real value emerges when business models and processes are designed through the lens of a customer-first, purpose-driven mindset.

Three Ways to Evolve Your Business into an Intelligent Enterprise

The first instinct for many organizations undergoing any kind of technology-enabled change is to dive head-first into the implementation project to take advantage of potential cost savings and efficiencies. However, this approach can be very short-sighted. These businesses often miss out on significant opportunities that can unify digital architecture, skills, processes, and data sources into a single foundation for intelligent operations and decision-making.

Instead, SAP often advises its customers to consider one of three business scenarios to set their unique road map to an intelligent enterprise. Each of these paths feature a lean enterprise IT environment that is low-cost and data-driven as well as provides the architectural agility needed to scale to today’s volatile economy. Ultimately, choosing the right path forward depends on the customer’s values and priorities.

Business Scenario 1: Reimagining a Business Process

IT simplification, reduced customization, and end-to-end transformation of business processes in areas such as procurement and the supply chain are common strategies. However, companies working their way to an intelligent enterprise are taking these initiatives to a higher level by migrating their core enterprise resource planning (ERP) processes to a next-generation ERP suite in the cloud.

This tactic allows businesses to see and understand the interconnection among the front office, supply chain, customer experience, and employee engagement to find new ways to drive the next-generation of processes across the value chain. Plus, a greenfield approach allows decision-makers to review standard, cloud-based best practices in detail to meet their business requirements.

Recently, Stara took a similar approach to embed intelligence across its business. The manufacturer of farming equipment developed new intelligent services to help its customers increase farming efficiency and implemented a cloud-based commerce solution to support intelligent sales processes.

Business Scenario 2: Designing a New Business Model

To stay ahead of the competition, companies are always in search of a business model, merger, or acquisition that could disrupt the entire industry and ‘wow’ existing and potential customers. However, industry lines are blurring, so businesses can find better success with solutions and services that provide many industry technologies and best practices in one box. The ability to use these capabilities to translate a business model from one industry to another can prove to be a tremendous opportunity for growth and expansion.

Take, for example, a cancer care company that is combining the ingenuity of people, data, and digital technology to take on an entirely new approach to fighting cancer. The company is transitioning to a next-generation ERP suite to create a foundation for connected intelligence and innovation, which is furthering its progress toward groundbreaking victories.

Business Scenario 3: Migrating Lines of Business to the Cloud

When companies decide to upgrade their ERP system, many choose to move all functional organizations at once while driving improvements at the customer-facing edges of their business. Yet, if they handle one line of business at a time, decision-makers can extend short-term value from the core of their operations to fully benefit from the latest innovations end-to-end.

Consider a retailer that wants to embed intelligence into its demand modeling and forecasting processes. By integrating predictive analytics and machine learning into its digital architecture, the company can optimize its operations, reducing costly overstocks and environment-impacting waste.

The Intelligent Enterprise: Your Vision on Your Terms

At a time where every move counts, few companies can afford to replace their entire IT landscape to accommodate the promises of new technologies. Digital investments and implementation approaches must be focused on bringing to life a long-term vision while remaining aligned with strategic priorities. Meanwhile, everyone – from the boardroom to the plant floor – must see the value of integrating new tools and capabilities into overall work experience.

By methodically building on digital transformation efforts with intelligent technologies, your company can create new opportunities that drive better business outcomes. Your employees can focus on higher-value work to accelerate value creation. And, more importantly, your company has the foundation needed to continue growing and expanding no matter what disruption comes along the way.

Discover the SAP blueprint that can help your business move from value discovery to value delivery. Read the whitepaper “Enabling the Intelligent Enterprise for Best-Run Businesses.”

This is part four of the five-part series “The Anatomy of the Intelligent Enterprise.” Next week, we will continue to examine how businesses can optimize the transition to an intelligent enterprise.

Oliver Huschke is global head of Solution Marketing and Communications for SAP Digital Business Services. Follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter.