For most companies, cloud adoption represents an early milestone in their path to becoming an intelligent enterprise. Now, looking back on the last two years, we can see that it also laid the foundation for accelerated digital transformation, where years of process changes had to be squeezed into a matter of months. But instead of pure innovation, the driver behind all this change was surviving pandemic-induced disruption in market conditions, supply chains, employee work arrangements, and more.

According to Gartner, public cloud spending is expected to continue to grow – consuming nearly half of all enterprise IT budgets by 2026, up from less than 17% this year. However, cloud investments will now focus more on strengthening operations, building differentiation, and improving sustainability with intelligent technologies such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and process automation.

Increased investments in the cloud will undoubtedly encompass a desire to innovate across the enterprise without being locked into a single cloud provider or set of cloud offerings. To keep options open, organizations may want to adopt a technology platform that provides open cloud services and enables them and their partners to innovate with greater control over their data, solutions, workflows, and user experiences.

Opening Up New Possibilities with Cloud Services

Savvy decision-makers who seek to differentiate and grow their organizations must find ways to accelerate the creation and modification of business models, experiences, processes, and applications. To make that happen, they need access to the latest database and data management, analytics, integration, and extension capabilities.

A unified technology platform – such as SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) – works to answer that need by delivering accelerated business outcomes with integration, data and analytics, and extensibility within the context of business domains to empower business centricity. It can enable organizations to solve unique business process challenges and create more meaningful outcomes.

SAP BTP also offers prebuilt integrations and analytics with workflows for line-of-business and industry processes to help accelerate the realization of these benefits by reducing development and innovation cycles.

Transforming Digitally Through Connected Systems and Prebuilt Content

For many organizations, adopting an open business technology platform is the key to accelerating their digital transformation journey. This journey is only possible by connecting data-driven enterprise processes, extending core business solutions, and allowing a consistent experience across different processes and workflow customizations.

Take, for example, the lead-to-cash process. With a unified technology platform, businesses and their partners can design an application that creates sales contracts capable of referencing agreed pricing terms and recommending relevant promotions, incentives, and rebates. This connected, process-aware application enables sales teams to benefit from workflows that are joined across marketing, finance, supply chain, and operations.

Other key components of speeding the digital transformation journey are prebuilt integrations and packaged content. For example, prepackaged contracting capabilities, configurable proposal creation rules and templates, guided self-service sales contract wizards, and adaptable approval workflows can enable lead-to-cash business stakeholders to accelerate design, development, and implementation cycles.

Integrating, Extending, and Keeping the Core Clean

The first step in this cloud-based innovation process is leveraging integration services to bridge disconnected systems, making the lead-to-cash process flexible and agile. For example, SAP customers and partners use SAP Integration Suite, which offers a choice of more than 1,800 prebuilt integrations, 2,100 APIs, and 160 third-party connectors to smoothly integrate on-premise and cloud-based applications and processes.

By complementing these integration services with application extensions available through SAP Extension Suite, customers and partners can simplify application development and extend line-of-business solution capabilities. Additionally, they can quickly adapt and innovate across a heterogeneous mix of private cloud, public cloud, hyperscaler, and on-premise landscapes.

These extension services enable partners to transition away from classic extensions that directly customize primary business solutions, enabling them to keep the digital core clean through side-by-side innovations that decouple their intellectual property. As a result, customers can achieve a better long-term outcome with applications that benefit from consistent upgrades to core solutions. Plus, by combining integration and extension services with prebuilt business content and native APIs, organizations can build and connect applications and data with less technical complexity – accelerating the time to results.

Transforming with a Balance of Control and Flexibility

When laying the groundwork for more stable operations and more predictive growth, nothing beats having real-time, accurate data from connected systems to make decisions confidently. And with a truly unified, business-centric technology platform, companies of all sizes and industries can turn their cloud into a high-powered innovation engine, producing better outcomes and experiences for their employees and customers.

As a next step, explore SAP Business Technology Platform or, if you’re interested in software partnership opportunities with SAP, learn more at SAP PartnerEdge – Build. If you’re already a partner, check out these exciting initiatives: Hack2Build and SAP Co-Innovation Lab.

Tom Le is global vice president of Partner Solution Advisory at SAP.