2020 has been an unusual year for everyone. Needless to say, digital transformation emerged on top of every business leaders’ agenda in a bid to achieve business continuity. Today, businesses are spurred on by the digital-first landscape and placing digital technology at the front and centre of their recovery.
The idea of perseverance in the face of adversity is one that coincides with the coming Chinese New Year of the Ox. To many of us in Asia, the ox represents hard work, positivity and most importantly perseverance. These are key traits businesses of all sizes need this year as they stay the course on their digitalisation efforts with a firm eye on Asia’s growing digital economy. As we ring in the Chinese New Year, what are some of the fundamentals SMEs have to consider as they continue to persevere on their digital transformation journeys?
Looking ahead to 2021, ambitious and fast-growing enterprises should persevere in their embrace of a holistic and interconnected digital-first mindset as they recalibrate for sustained growth in the next decade.
This is especially critical for fast-growing businesses in this region that are looking to position themselves for growth in Asia’s maturing digital economy. The key ingredient to success is the adoption of a digital-first mindset that is not only focused on technology, but also interconnectedness. Over the course of the last year, we have seen digital-first organisations achieve significant results when it comes to employee productivity, customer interactions and revenue growth.
Interconnectivity also means SMEs will have a clear view that offers them a blueprint to becoming intelligent enterprises regardless of where they are on in their digital transformation journeys. They need to work with a trusted partner that is across their entire business, offering them unprecedented insights for transformation and improvement, enabling faster time to market in a dynamic marketplace.
At the same time, interconnectivity compels businesses to relook at different priorities, including resilience, agility, and efficiency from a fresh perspective – often involving a whole-of-business approach to management that embraces data sharing and process reimagination to better collaborate across each business unit.
Going back to the basics: rapidly evolving customer experience (CX)
Before a digital transformation can even begin, businesses must update its mindset from being product-focused to being customer-focused. The driving force behind technology decisions should be customers with the aim to make their lives easier instead of making things easier for the business. Most importantly, customer focus is the basis for all other digital transformation decisions.
In 2020, SMEs aggressively started their digital transformation journeys, but it’s never truly over. While a focus on customer experience has traditionally been based on transactions with customers, SMEs must keep in mind that the customer experience includes pre- and post-sales interactions too with all stages having the ability to make or break a customer relationship.
To further grow in the coming year, every business leader will need to think about experience differently – especially when everything we do, from how we shop, to how and where we work, to how we interact with others – has been structurally upended. An experience renaissance is happening, and the companies that put experience at the centre of their business will spark growth and be the new age of leaders into the year and decade ahead.
Reimagine the supply chain
The pandemic has made us shift our gaze onto the supply chain. Rightly so, it has taken the spotlight for many businesses as many SMEs struggled to pivot and find their footing. We understand things can change overnight, and businesses need to be ready.
The key to regaining composure lies in achieving an agile and intelligent supply chain that’s capable of providing end to end visibility in the form of a digital supply chain. With this next evolution, SMEs will be able to automate processes, improve decision-making and more importantly, plan ahead any potential disruptions to their supply chains.
The next generation of winning businesses will be defined by their supply chain innovation as much as customer experience reimagination. In fact, both go hand in hand with supply chains having the ability to directly impact customer experience. It is for this reason SMEs must capitalise on the opportunities that arise, remain mindful of such considerations while leveraging a strong digital core to achieve business outcomes and keep up with changing consumer demands.
Looking ahead in the year of the Ox
Digital transformation is an ongoing process, which means continuous change and venturing into the unknown can be difficult, but the benefits that come from creating a forward-thinking, customer-focused, Intelligent Enterprise can be lasting. Combined with interconnected communications and holistic management strategies, the enhanced collaborations across business units showed exciting progress for SMEs – be it overall cost reductions or reimagination customer and employee experiences.
What’s more, with 5G’s growing adoption across Asia, the proliferation of data-driven intelligence will be the game changer for many businesses. As we prepare for a future driven by data, SMEs that have already developed plans to monetise the innovations brought forth by emerging technologies such as 5G will stand in good stead.
Together with our partners, I believe SAP can bring a collective force of innovative solutions to help midsize businesses achieve value through holistic management strategies.
We’re ready for the possibilities in Asia. What are you excited about in 2021?
Claus Andresen is senior vice president and head of Midmarket for SAP APJ.