COVID-19 is a human tragedy that has transformed the world in an instant. Amidst the sadness of lives lost, some hope arises, as people and businesses start to reassess their work lives.

From the UK comes the story of the University of Sussex, that was rolling out a five year digital transformation plan. But when the coronavirus struck, this plan had to be ditched and the ‘varsity had to online nineteen thousand students and some three thousand staff. In three weeks.

Fortunately the groundwork had been laid, as the university had been planning on using hybrid cloud technology to expand beyond its physical confines in years to come. With the world in chaos, technology, strategy and optimistic forward transformation is what is restoring economies, smoothing societal woes and getting the world back to function. But focussing on the right things is crucial.

“Too many organizations are concentrating on finding a collaboration tool when the bigger issue is training people how to work with others in remote work situations,” Jack Gold, founder of J. Gold Associates advises, adding: “It’s as much (or more) about the ‘how to’ than ‘what tech I have to do it, and many don’t know how.’”

In an instant, enterprises must now understand that their cloud plans must change. To become agile, innovative and sustainable, organisations need to create more resilient business models, watch their budgets and effect rapid digital transformations. At this time we’re recommending that IT leaders heed Gartner’s sound advice, which is to: “Protect your organization from significant business disruption by improving infrastructure resiliency during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Public lockdowns put significant additional pressure on infrastructure because of the spikes in online traffic and transactions. Gartner advises: “Expand on-premises workload capacity by leveraging public cloud services, as the capacity of data centers is typically insufficient to support additional demand. Complement your public cloud provider with multi-cloud solutions to protect against resource shortages and the areas that are hit the hardest with traffic. An IT steering committee can enable I&O teams to develop pandemic service-related applications that support demand in affected areas.”

At this time, making the right IT choices means enterprises can now lean into innovating continuously off the back of previous customer-centric investments.

In our experience, the following ERP trends offer a proven path to transformation. These concepts can help companies become more customer-centric, future-fit and profitable — whatever happens.

Trend #1: Mobility

The obvious trend is towards mobility and remote working. Even once the current crisis ends, there will always be the potential for another, similar situation — and working remotely has other advantages. Virtual conferences can save on fuel and travel time, for example. The ability to access your desktop from anywhere in the world, securely and speedily, can improve efficiency.

Trend #2: Organizations Must Move to Compliance

Business ethics had already taken centre stage in 2020, with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) legislation and King IV corporate governance guidelines dictating future ethics. These recommendations have been in the pipeline for several years now, but the pressure has mounted for increased compliance. We expect this to impact the entire supply chain and is likely to introduce complexities into operations. Your choice of ERP software must conform to these new standards.

Trend #3: Privacy Under Scrutiny

The world was already focussing on privacy before covid. Following on from the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which has been in effect since 2018, privacy and protection of information has come more sharply into focus, as the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act is slated to come into effect this year. To ensure your architecture is compliant during this moment of peak mobility, Enterprise Class ERP systems like SAP Business ByDesign are fully compliant with GDPR, and other major data protection regulations.

Trend #4: More Large Organizations Will Adopt Two-Tier ERP

As various as-a-Service options become available, businesses need to move at least part of their systems to the cloud. For large organizations, however, this can be highly complex, as different legacy systems need to be integrated, and a ‘simple’ migration is not possible. Certain core legacy systems still need to be housed in the on-premises data center, rather than the public cloud. The Hybrid approach addresses these requirements, with distinct advantages like off-site backup.These integrated, on-premises (legacy)/cloud systems are defined as: ‘Two Tier’. IaaS, PaaS and SaaS (and all the other XaaS) were transforming the world of business before the coronavirus, and will continue to do so now, but at a faster pace.

Trend #5: Digital Transformation is about Humans

Transforming your business isn’t just about installing ERP software and expecting everything to naturally fall into place. Employees are naturally resistant to change, so it’s important that this ‘last mile’ of digital transformation be handled correctly. Change management and training are key to ensuring the entire organisation gets on board and learns to take advantage of ERP.

Trend #6: Death to Spreadsheets – Analyse and Visualise

The dashboard has replaced the spreadsheet for decision-makers who want to keep on top of their business. Visualisation tools like SAP Analytics Cloud (SAC) provide a visual representation of a business’ health that turns data into insight — allowing faster decision making and better, more fine-grained control. The standard integration between SAC and SAP Business ByDesign, greatly simplifies and accelerates the creation of stories and dashboards.


Given what we already know about the bold new world we’re walking into, ERP remains an essential IT investment for enterprises successfully embracing digital disruption. The evolution of cloud ERP continues to provide opportunities for improving operations, increasing customer centricity and allowing business leaders to innovate like never before.