Transforming business processes – such as spend management and the customer experience – is not a sprint nor a marathon. It’s a relay of constant change, innovation, and reimagination that goes beyond accepted standards to build business processes for the future that are more streamlined, intelligent, and human-centered.
Organizations within the same business rarely – if ever – evolve at the same rate. Internal-looking areas, such as accounting and finance, tend to be more linear, gradual, and focused on delivering incremental improvements. Meanwhile, functions that rely more heavily on external processes, such as those related to vendors and customers, often adopt innovation more rapidly, in response to external factors, such as how people behave, industries evolve, and competitors operate.
The latter is undoubtedly the case for functions related to spend management and the customer experience. For most companies, the increasing complexity and dynamics of these business areas require the assistance of partners that embrace open innovation and have a forward-looking view. The expectation is clear: creative ideation, experimentation, and technology expertise must be combined to bring to life unique and impactful solutions that anticipate tomorrow’s business process requirements.
At SAP, our global partner ecosystem is helping companies accelerate innovation to create business models, processes, and experiences that bring greater value to customers, employees, and the entire business. Our partners consistently leverage their specialized knowledge and technology to deliver capabilities beyond the established norms that enable customers with an experience-first solution approach. And SAP Business Technology Platform, which provides a portfolio of data and analytics and application development and integration services, is a vital part of those cutting-edge innovations.
How transformational are these innovations? Let me share some of the latest projects extending the boundaries of today’s spend management and customer experience technologies.
Strengthening Total Spend Management Enterprise-Wide
Business networks, such as Ariba Network, are helping businesses discover and engage with millions of buyers and suppliers across the source-to-pay process. However, as the speed, uncertainty, and complexity of change within global supply chains increases, buyers in all roles want an intelligent procurement process with an experience-first approach that delivers visibility into spend management in the context of the entire business.
Our partners can address this challenge by using SAP Extension Suite, which is part of SAP BTP, to help extend Ariba Network and personalize the buying experience. For example, they can design new processes and reroute, augment, or automate existing ones to adapt to customer needs. Intelligent workflows can also be leveraged within Ariba Network to help simplify and accelerate enterprise procurement functions, including sourcing, contracts, catalogs, requisitions, purchasing, invoice processing, and payments.
Partners can further optimize our customers’ procurement processes by including the SAP Analytics Cloud solution, available through SAP BTP. The solution helps users efficiently manage procurement costs and financial information by converting real-time, critical data from external sources, third-party systems, and spend management solutions from SAP into insights. Additional analytics tools are also found in SAP BTP, enabling users to explore data confidently, analyze predictions, and plan for the entire enterprise. These tools include digital boardrooms, dashboards, visualizations, conversational analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI)-embedded business applications.
Maximizing Margins with Sales Intelligence
Businesses have little wiggle room to widen their profit margins when facing supply chain constraints and inflationary operational and material costs. But perhaps a more critical concern is the ability to capture capital from revenue streams and invest it back into the maintenance of existing equipment and future expansion opportunities.
Many SAP partners help our customers overcome this hurdle by identifying activities that generate business with a high contribution margin – integrating that information into their pipeline to optimize sales efforts. For example, with SAP BTP, they can create a sales intelligence dashboard that brings together data from the SAP Sales Cloud solution and SAP S/4HANA based on SAP Data Warehouse Cloud and SAP Analytics Cloud.
Since the dashboard provides sales intelligence in real time, deal updates within SAP S/4HANA and SAP Sales Cloud can be used to directly impact which sales activities and customer accounts a business chooses to pursue. Sales managers can explore how individual deals impact profit margins, enabling them to transition away from low-margin sales outcomes and add more resources to high-impact opportunities.
Keeping Up with Fast-Moving Consumer Demands
Whether in a physical store or on an e-commerce site, consumers get frustrated when they cannot find the products they want, when and where they want them. And this level of dissatisfaction is prompting shoppers to look elsewhere as new competitors provide more convenient access.
Our partners enable retailers to overcome this friction in the consumer experience by combining SAP BTP and SAP Customer Experience solutions. A smooth integration between the platform and solutions helps retail businesses engage customers, partners, and employees across all digital touchpoints. More importantly, this goal can be accomplished without disrupting core business operations.
In this scenario, SAP BTP offers broad coverage of sales, marketing, and communication channels on a data-driven, integrated, and extensible foundation. By embedding a single user interface into channel applications, our customers can eliminate switching between interaction points, such as computer telephony, mobile messaging, and social feeds. Plus, they can connect each touchpoint to third-party applications through normalized authentication, built-in security capabilities, and harmonized RESTful APIs with interactive documentation.
In addition, our partners help lower the cost of implementing and maintaining our customers’ omnichannel landscape, even as the complexity and variety of required API formats and authentications grow. They can connect the landscape to top third-party software-as-a-service applications significantly faster and provide a smooth customer experience across various channels, with minimal total cost of ownership and overhead.
Anticipating Tomorrow’s Challenges Today
Traditionally, businesses have turned to technology to solve current challenges. But many organizations today are starting to prioritize innovation to get ahead of the obstacles they see coming and unlock future growth. SAP partners are bringing this forward-looking mindset to their customers, working together to build more streamlined, intelligent, and human-centered solutions with SAP BTP.
With SAP BTP as the unified and open platform for innovation, our partners can access a range of intelligent enterprise applications with database and data management, analytics, integration, and extension capabilities. Harnessing this entire portfolio allows companies to maintain business continuity while developing, implementing, and adopting innovations that bring leading-edge opportunities for cost reduction, increased productivity, increased safety, and optimized cash flow.
But more importantly, our partners and customers can make the future less uncertain with innovations built to anticipate tomorrow’s challenges with a platform they can trust.
To learn more about how SAP partners are helping businesses succeed with a unified technology platform, explore my other articles. If you’re interested in software partnership opportunities with SAP, check out SAP PartnerEdge, Build. If you’re already a partner, check out these exciting initiatives: Hack2Build and SAP Co-Innovation Lab.
Jagdish Sahasrabudhe is CTO of the Global Partner Organization at SAP.