According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in 2023 a third of the global economy will be in a recession, with the U.S., European Union, and China predicted to slow.
That is one reason why Ragunath Ramanathan, chief revenue officer of SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), thinks that a software platform is particularly important for organizations considering strategies to help them weather economic headwinds.
“This is going to be a period of uncertainty in the macro-economic environment, including capital and labor markets,” Ramanathan says. “A platform can help create a more resilient business. It offers holistic insight and planning capabilities to help you understand what will happen to your cash flow, talent base, stocks, and demand — and allows businesses to plan for contingencies.”
Facing cost-cutting measures, companies can use automation functionality within platforms like SAP BTP to improve efficiency. Ramanathan explains that historically, organizations expect employees to take care of certain tasks manually. “But the line between what machines and people can do changes all the time. With embedded artificial intelligence and process automation features, platforms can help automate work and fill in for employees that organizations may not be able to afford.”
Beyond automation, platforms with low-code and no-code (LCNC) development capabilities will help companies do more with less. “What’s exciting for SAP customers is that the platform makes it easier to address innovation,” says Ramanathan. “Our recently announced LCNC offering, SAP Build, makes coding easier — opening up innovation to normal business workers. With IT skills in short supply and volatile labor markets, it helps tap into existing labor pools.”
But the economy is not the only reason for customers to accelerate their platform strategies in 2023.
“We need to put our heads above cyclical waves of recession and growth, which come and go,” Ramanathan says. “Certain challenges, like sustainability, don’t go away. We need to look beyond micro- and macro-economic trends to realize we don’t have much time. That’s where a platform can help.”
Platforms that include analytics, reporting, and the ability to harness data across and within organizations provide huge benefits to help measuring progress against sustainability goals.
As Ramanathan points out, “We’re in the wild west of sustainability and there are very different ideas about what it is and how to measure it.” This makes it difficult to compare organizations to assess who’s doing well versus those that fall short. He explains that sustainability needs a “truth mirror” to accurately reflect where companies stand in terms of their commitment, resources, successes, and areas for improvement.
“Think about the early days of accounting,” says Ramanathan. “There were many different accounting practices and SAP created processes that became the gold standard in accounting software for companies that were serious about measuring their finances.”
That’s what SAP BTP can be for sustainability. It can enable integrated reporting that provides both a baseline and standard for all sustainability reporting. This will allow companies to drill down into and understand how to demonstrate progress to governing agencies and stakeholders.
One example of a platform’s power is a city in China that will use SAP BTP to help achieve China’s “dual carbon” goals: to “peak” its carbon emissions before 2030 and become carbon neutral before 2060. With SAP BTP, the city can eliminate data silos, allowing them to visualize the city’s carbon data by category and build industry-specific carbon emission data models. Access to integrated information will help them make the right choices to get to where they want to be as a city and a nation.
To get the most value out of a cloud platform, organizations must decide whether it is hosted in a public versus private cloud. While both have pros and cons — and many organizations will adopt a hybrid approach — Ramanathan provides this advice: “Even in a cloud world, companies often wind up maintaining complex IT systems. But the real benefits of the cloud, especially in resource-short times, is that it can free up those responsibilities so companies can focus on innovating to advance their business.”
This is where public cloud comes in. As Ramanathan explains, private cloud requires more discipline and know-how to configure and use the system. But public cloud allows companies to outsource that work to cloud vendors with that exact expertise.
“Moreover, public cloud solutions are being used by hundreds of customers of all sizes,” says Ramanathan. “So you can be assured that if others are using the software successfully, it will work for you. You get the highest service levels, security, resiliency, and easier upgrade paths.”