As information grows exponentially and new intelligent technologies emerge in abundance, small and midsize businesses have countless opportunities to influence experiences and reimagine their business processes. To thrive in a world where experience is critical, companies must use data-driven innovations to respond quickly to win in their markets – think Trader Joe’s, New Balance, and L.L. Bean.

Unfortunately, most growing companies encounter a roadblock on the way to sustainable, long-term growth with the latest technologies: a limited IT budget that many times prevents them from pursuing new opportunities and markets.

How can a small and midsize business affordably maintain a secure, stable operating environment while seeking the necessary flexibility and agility to deliver exceptional experiences through valuable innovation at speed? For many growing companies, these capabilities are best integrated, managed, and orchestrated with a business technology platform that ensures continuous, agile innovation.

What is a business technology platform?

A business technology platform is a portfolio of data management and cloud platform technologies and business services that are designed to help organizations of all sizes easily and rapidly build applications, integrate and extend business processes, and leverage intelligent technologies to drive informed decision-making in real time – all targeted at achieving new business outcomes at speed and scale.

To address new business opportunities, a business technology platform transforms data into intelligence, then intelligence is embedded into applications to generate data-driven insight. And all this knowledge is applied to processes and connected across the IT landscape to set the foundation for future innovation.

How does a business technology platform extend existing business applications?

Small and midsize businesses can integrate the platform with combination of technologies such as data management, analytics, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and blockchain as well as application development services on an open cloud platform. Doing so provides the flexibility and agility needed to quickly build and easily extend business applications with streamlined user experiences that delight customers and employees and deliver superior business outcomes.

What benefits could small and midsize businesses expect from a business technology platform?

One significant benefit of a business technology platform for small and medium size companies is the ability to use a set of ready services to connect processes and experiences and make intelligent data-driven decisions with confidence, integrity, and continuous innovation. As a result, businesses can drive a step-change in productivity, reimagine business models, and quickly boost revenue streams.

Such capabilities can deliver a significant edge for small and medium size businesses, especially when competing against long-established corporate giants. McKinsey research finds that companies introducing new business models with digital technology take market share from incumbents, displacing an average of two points of year-over-year growth.

For small and midsize businesses, these opportunities for growth and competitive advantage can be summed up with three strategies, all enabled by a business technology platform:

  1. Database and data management – Conquer data that is too unwieldy and complex to interpret with in-memory database management systems that optimize storage, compliance, and analytics. Growing companies can make better, faster, and smarter decisions by streamlining and accelerating the processing of massive volumes of diverse data and pushing that intelligence into analytics and automation technologies.
  2. Analytics – Leave behind the traditional use of static reports and graphic visualizations that are out of date and out of context as soon as they reach the decision-maker’s desk. Instead, users across the business can discover deep insights, simplify access to critical information, and collaborate with each other.
  3. Fast path to business value – Innovate, integrate, and extend business applications to provide intelligent and insightful capabilities that meet business needs today and scale to address those in the future. This approach leverages a comprehensive set of tools and business services that are combined and embedded into intelligent technologies and can be extended through differentiated, innovative application extensions offered through a vibrant partner ecosystem.

What should small and midsize businesses consider when selecting a business technology platform?

When assessing today’s diverse market for a business technology platform, it is critical to base your comparison on two key factors:

  1. In-depth insight and access to business data and processes – Small and midsize businesses should always look for a unified, open business technology platform that goes beyond connecting processes and experiences. It should also derive fast and accurate insights across the organization for continuous innovation and superior business outcomes.
  1. Comprehensive and enterprise-ready technology portfolio – A business technology platform should contain everything that a small and midsize business needs to shape strategies with creative thinking and full-scale IT qualities such as data governance, compliance, and security. Whether those attributes are accessible out of the box, through a complementary partner solution, or as an internally developed application, the platform must provide the flexibility and speed to deliver exceptional customer and workforce experiences.

What benefits does a business technology platform from SAP bring to small and midsize companies?

The advantages that a business technology platform can unlock are, without a doubt, exciting and transformational. For small and midsize businesses, the ability to turn data into in-depth insight and immediate action gives them a distinct edge as the marketplace becomes more competitive.

SAP is uniquely positioned to deliver on the full promise of such an intelligent business model powered by a technology platform.  For nearly five decades, more than 250,000 small and midsize businesses worldwide have trusted us to run their most-critical processes with technologies deployed on premise, in the cloud, and within hybrid deployment environments.

Every time we enable small and midsize companies to adopt a unified business technology platform, we are doing more than just connecting and integrating their IT assets. We are giving them the freedom to reimagine their business – and even their industry – in ways that can drive sustainable, long-term growth for years to come.

Discover what specific digital technologies mean to small and midsize companies. Bookmark the Getting Started series page to learn the basics of analytics, HR and people engagement solutions, digital platforms, procurement and expense management tools, and ERP and CRM applications.

Explore which SAP solution might address your needs. Answer a few questions, and our solution finder tool will provide a suggestion with resources to help you learn more. 

Dan Lahl is global vice president of Product Marketing at SAP
Sylvie Sollod is senior director of Digital Platform Product Marketing at SAP