Responding to Rapid Change in Real Time with SAP Cloud Platform

A new report out from McKinsey this month gets to the heart of what the current moment means for organizations: “If the pace of the pre-coronavirus world was already fast, the luxury of time now seems to have disappeared completely. Businesses that once mapped digital strategy in one- to three-year phases must now scale their initiatives in a matter of days or weeks.”

Today, organizations worldwide are bombarded and overloaded with inquiries and are being asked to address drastic change overnight. How can businesses large and small rise to the occasion, providing continuity in the near term while preparing for growth as economic momentum returns? And — perhaps more importantly — how can organizations deliver superior services and essential resources to those in need right now?

Agility, security, scalability, adaptability: These are the principles, McKinsey argues, that should be foremost in the minds of all organizations as they tackle challenges now while working to ensure success in an uncertain future.

The following three real-life examples of innovative thinking, underpinned by these core principles and powered by SAP Cloud Platform, have facilitated dramatically improved outcomes not only for organizations but also for countless individuals across the globe.

Adaptability: Ensuring Children are Fed

Many children in the U.S. depend on the breakfasts and lunches served daily at schools across the country. With school out for the remainder of the school year, U.S. child health and wellness nonprofit GENYOUth wanted to adapt its services to make sure that children would not miss two of the three meals they require each day to grow and thrive. GENYOUth sought to match children’s food needs with the schools that provide takeout meals every day — down to the levels of neighborhood and meal availability.

The GENYOUth team chose SAP Cloud Platform to create an interactive application in mere days with the pro bono services of SAP. SAP4Kids intuitively allows families across the U.S. to find free meals in their area and allows school organizations to communicate about the services and resources they provide. Once schools are back in session, GENYOUth has a vision to adapt the app so that it can be extended to serve as a powerful ongoing resource for families.

Agility and Scalability: Repatriation in a Time of Crisis

When the novel coronavirus struck, German citizens found themselves stranded all over the world — stuck in far-flung places like Israel, California, Mexico, the Philippines, Cyprus. And with travel restrictions tightening on a daily basis, the German government had to quickly identify stranded citizens. It placed an extremely urgent request to SAP: create an emergency repatriation platform, both online and mobile, for tens of thousands of users — in 24 hours!

Amid widespread global quarantine, a few elements were vital. The platform had to be stable and secure, the registration process had to be simple, and the product had to be scalable to accommodate the tens of thousands of Germans frantically trying to get home. Just as important, the platform had to be agile to meet the demanding requirements of the application. A virtual 40-person SAP team from across the globe responded to the request and built an agile and scalable application using SAP Cloud Platform, within the 24-hour deadline. In its first few days, the app had tens of thousands of users, and it has now been used by over 100,000 Germans. The app was the crucial first step that allowed the German government to orchestrate flights from destinations across the globe to get citizens home efficiently, quickly, and safely.

Flexibility: Just-in-Time Medical Supplies

Long before COVID-19, healthcare heroes were already working tirelessly on the front lines. International healthcare supply company Hartmann was making sure that they had what they needed to get the job done, providing hospitals in 30 countries with essential equipment — from scalpels and masks to disinfectants. Hospital staff are experts at caring for patients, but they are not inventory management experts. Hartmann found that haphazard manual ordering practices were resulting in inflated costs and inefficiency.

Leveraging the flexibility of SAP Cloud Platform, Hartmann worked to streamline and automate ordering, creating a sensor box based on the Internet of Things (IoT), which places an order whenever supplies drop below a certain threshold. Hartmann also extended the platform to provide predictive analytics that allows for anticipating spikes in demand,  helping ensure that supply chain and manufacturing processes are equipped to meet hospitals’ needs. Last year, Hartmann presciently noted that this predictive logic would be invaluable to hospitals during epidemics: “Having the right product in the right place at the right time can save lives.”

Common Thread

The common thread that runs through these stories is the adaptability, agility, flexibility, and scalability of SAP Cloud Platform. Each organization used the unifying attributes of the platform in radically different situations, to solve radically different problems. But that is the beauty of SAP Cloud Platform: It can be used by any organization to tackle any challenge.

Meaningful Difference

McKinsey’s report speaks mostly to the business implications of the current crisis, which they call “a mandate to be bold.” While I agree with McKinsey that this moment calls for boldness, at SAP we are also privileged to be intimately familiar with the human side of what it means to be bold, to do things differently. Digital innovation is not just about boosting the bottom line.

Digital innovation, fueled by SAP Cloud Platform, is also about providing better government services. It is about bringing people home. It is about getting the right tools in the right hands. It is about making sure parents can feed their children.

Let’s be bold together.


Dan Lahl is global vice president of Product Marketing at SAP.