Some years back, I ran a mortgage division and saw an opportunity to launch a new type of mortgage. I went to my CIO and pitched him the opportunity, to which they said, “I can have it ready in 16 months.”  That killed my business model immediately.

Today, our customers face the same pain point I did all those years ago: finding a way to achieve rapid innovation. They want to be able to move quickly, whether it means launching a new product, service, type of pricing – anything designed to capture a market opportunity. It just takes too long.

Another major issue that customers talk about — but have not quite figured it out — is: what does it mean to be a data-driven enterprise? Some platform vendors promote a vision in which they host companies’ data in a data lake so they can perform advanced analytics, predict, and use the data in other ways. But those strategies can be enormously expensive and painful while still not yielding the results customers want. Simply collecting data does not necessarily result in better business outcomes.

The solution that addresses these two pain points is digital transformation. And any company seeking to bolster their success in the new year by undergoing digital transformation, needs to consider a platform strategy.

Here are three ways a strong platform will accelerate successful digital transformation.

First, businesses today typically transform their functions in silos, such as finance or HR. But the reality is that businesses need to run an end-to-end business process to drive business outcomes for their customers. A good digital transformation platform can help businesses integrate and create an end-to-end process for them that works, and a great one can most importantly optimize and automate that end-to-end process.

As customers consider their platforms, they need to think beyond the nuts and bolts of commodified APIs and integrations. When creating a platform for the long-haul, it is important to keep in mind that IT landscapes are not static, but always changing. You need a vendor that takes care of the entire life cycle of integration — one that can help ensure out-of-the-box connectivity enabling semantic terms and data to flow across hybrid, complex IT environments.

Second, a digital transformation platform can help businesses innovate faster. A platform like SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) can be rolled out and used by employees across the spectrum of technical knowledge. This means that developers, line-of-business experts, or anyone comfortable with IT basics can help businesses address challenges and innovate quickly.

Third, a digital transformation platform is the fastest way to convert data into business value. A well-integrated platform can manage all types of data, connect it to other data sources, and make it productive immediately. With SAP BTP, customers gain intuitive insights driven by artificial intelligence (AI) that can be used alongside regular and predictive data analysis to aid business outcomes. Moreover, that data can be used for enterprise-wide planning that moves beyond the office of the CFO to include all other lines of business, such as marketing, supply chain, or human resources. In an increasingly uncertain world, holistic planning with predictive capabilities is a business imperative.

I still wonder if I would have been able to launch that mortgage all those years ago if my bank had foreseen the importance of digital transformation to achieving rapid innovation. Businesses today are luckier than mine was; there are great platform solutions available to help companies deal with ever-increasing amounts of data. And platforms represent a positive shift in how companies achieve deeper, sustained integration, deliver innovation faster, and leverage data for business outcomes.

With that in mind, consider gifting your company a new platform to propel your success in the new year.

Raghunath Ramanathan is chief revenue officer for SAP Platform and Technologies.