In late 2019, prior to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it seemed that the pace of change was impossibly fast. But the 2020s have shown us that the only thing we can count on is change — and it has been more abrupt and dramatic than anticipated.

Adaptability is now a vital core competency, as companies compete for the new opportunities created by unexpected change. Just as “fortune favors the prepared mind,” abruptly shifting market conditions favor the agile enterprise.

Technology Might Be the Answer

As companies turn to technology to help them become more responsive, we are seeing an increase in digital transformation projects. In fact, global spending on these projects is expected to more than double from $1.31 trillion in 2020 to $2.8 trillion in 2025, according to Statista. Most companies are looking to improve operational efficiency, provide faster time to market, and become more responsive to customers.

However, the road to unlocking the true value of a digital transformation is long and treacherous. Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that approximately 70% of digital transformation projects failed to meet expectations. Recent results from the McKinsey Global Survey “… confirm an enduring truth: the more transformation actions a company takes, the greater its chances for success. Yet success remains the exception, not the rule.”

Business Process Transformation Is the Real Answer

At SAP Signavio, we believe that project failure rates have been because the teams driving those initiatives were acting with incomplete information. Many organizations have a good view of their applications, data, and people, but do not have the same discipline around business process management. When they do look closely at end-to-end processes, organizations start to understand the complex interconnectivity that underlies even seemingly straightforward tasks.

As industry analyst Josh Greenbaum writes: “Meanwhile, it’s pretty obvious that what’s needed in the mad rush to digitally transform, or die, is interconnectivity, fueled by end-to-end business processes that transcend silos and allow all manner of stakeholders to do an increasingly complex set of tasks with a highly engaging user experience that hides all the underlying technical complexity.”

As companies digitize operations, increased interconnectivity and complexity make having a cross-functional process point of view even more important. Because of this, we believe that business process management is no longer enough. SAP is bringing in advanced analytics, predictive analytics, experience data, and merging automation technologies such as robotic process automation (RPA) into the SAP Signavio portfolio.

We are also bringing in the human element with our new journey to process analytics capabilities. This offering correlates experience data from end user surveys — whether customer, supplier, or employee — with operational data, giving companies the ability to understand how best to optimize their end-to-end business processes for both operational excellence and customer experience.

All of this has helped shift process management from a tactical, compliance-driven function to a strategic discipline for managing change. The resulting capabilities move us into what we call business process transformation.

What makes business process transformation so powerful is connection. It allows business and IT teams to come together to understand how a change in underlying operations applications will impact business outcomes. It allows customer teams and technical staff to examine exactly how process changes can enhance user experiences. In a nutshell, business process transformation allows companies to more easily manage the complexity required to have a truly agile and responsive organization.

Process Transformation as a Growth Driver

At SAP we know that we cannot succeed if our customers do not succeed right along with us. When we announced the acquisition of Signavio just over a year ago, our intention was to “strengthen SAP’s capacity to help companies quickly understand, improve, transform and manage their business processes at scale.” Since then, we have seen an incredible acceleration of growth and an increasing sense that process transformation is at the heart of digital transformation. In retrospect, it should not have been a surprise.

With unpredictable and abrupt change now embedded in our lives, organizations that focus on business process transformation are positioned for competitive advantage, achieving cost savings while keeping the human perspective in mind. Putting process at the center of their thinking allows them to unlock the inherent promise of a modern digital infrastructure to create the agility and resilience needed in volatile times.

Rouven Morato is general manager of SAP Signavio at SAP.