What’s Next in High-Growth Digital Innovations

Quantum computing, the composable enterprise, and ubiquitous artificial intelligence (AI) were among the fastest-growing technology advancements that five experts saw reshaping the future of intelligent, sustainable, networked business. Here is a sampling of their insights shared during a panel discussion hosted by Kange Kaneene, vice president of SAP.iO Foundries North America, at the SAP Sapphire Orlando event.

Three Trends Drive Investments in Digital Startups

Nino Marakovic, founder and CEO of Sapphire Ventures, said that enterprise software startups have experienced record-breaking investments in the past two years, driven by the urgency of large companies adopting technology to help them transform and position themselves for the future. Originally SAP’s corporate venture capital arm, Sapphire Ventures has been an independent financial investment firm for 12 years. SAP is the largest investor in the Sapphire Ventures portfolio that totals US$10 billion.

“Last year alone, more than $60 billion was invested in startups making supply chains more sustainable, intelligent, and resilient,” said Marakovic. “Another major investment area is data and machine learning as we see more of the workflows and data move to the cloud. Companies want solutions that help customers manage, orchestrate, organize, and analyze that data. The third high-growth area is future of work. Company shifts from on-site to remote and hybrid work, [coupled with] a tight labor market and wave of employee resignations, have a created a perfect storm that’s modernizing the workplace.”

Data Saves Money and the Environment

Ivaldi Group is a great example of how startups are innovating to help supply chains hardest hit by pandemic-related disruption, in this case, in the automotive industry. Uvaldi Group participated in the SAP.iO Foundries New York City COVID-19 recovery cohort. SAP.iO Foundries is the company’s external startup accelerator. Integrating data from SAP S/4HANA customers, Ivaldi Group’s software calculates the carbon footprint of an auto supplier’s spare parts operation, analyzing potential candidates for advanced, local digital manufacturing such as 3D printing.

“Customers are interested in finding money where they didn’t know they were losing it and reducing their carbon footprint,” said Stefani Pellinen-Chavez, COO at Ivaldi Group. “We review the data, including how far a customer ships products, how long they remain in inventory, how hard it is to source these parts, and how long their factory or facility would be down if this part was not available…Suppliers might create local manufacturing centers so the community can partner with larger corporate customers.”

Holistic Planning with Connected Data Company-Wide

In an uncertain world, supply chain planning has become one of the major challenges for companies navigating disruptions. Juergen Mueller, member of the Executive Board of SAP SE and chief technology officer at SAP, shared how organizations are innovating on SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP) to collaborate with their ecosystem, explore what-if scenarios for planning purposes and flexibility, and gain competitive advantage. He said that advanced analytics and connected data help people immediately see and act on the impact of material shortages and potential alternatives for factory production lines, suppliers and logistics partners, finance and cash flow outlook, and workforce demands.

Sustainability Data Shores Up Supply Chain Resilience

Jan Gilg, president and chief product officer of SAP S/4HANA, said that organizations are “jumping all over” resilient, sustainable supply chains, using SAP solutions for data visibility that bolsters strategic business advantage. Holding up the example of an everyday item like a cup of coffee, he said that numerous companies worldwide were involved in its production, from the farmers growing and harvesting coffee beans, to a vast network of suppliers and transportation providers that deliver fresh brew to consumers.

“One of our large customers manages 288,000 farmers across two thousand brands of coffee they sell, with thousands of suppliers,” said Gilg. “We have an entire portfolio that helps customers like this manage their supply chain and make them more resilient…managing the flow of materials and value. Now we’re adding the third dimension, managing the flow of environmental information to understand the carbon footprint created while a product is produced, shipped, and brought to their customers. Over one-third of investors have global assets related to companies that are sustainable. Two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay a premium for sustainable brands.”

For the complete conversation on stage at SAP Sapphire Orlando, watch the replay.


Follow me @smgaler.