Just over a year ago before the pandemic, it would have been unimaginable for businesses that have withstood the test of time to even consider reinventing their business models. Yet, many today have broken out of tried-and-tested ways and are surging ahead in an unchartered future.

At SAP’s recent SAPPHIRE NOW 2021 conference, we announced a bold vision to enable businesses towards the next stage – enabling them to transform themselves to improve business outcomes, better navigate changing economic and geopolitical conditions, to empower their sustainable future. Here’s my summary of the key takeaways for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the region:

Navigating disruption with simplicity

Digital transformation amidst disruption has become mission-critical, with more businesses choosing to run enterprise computing to the cloud.

While many businesses are already familiar with the cloud, today’s current landscape necessitates this shift, even as Asia continues to hone its growth ambitions.

For SMEs, this step is especially crucial to drive innovation enhance agility, ensure seamless collaboration with partners and adapt to a fast-accelerating landscape. RISE with SAP, our Business Transformation as a service for holistic transformation – all in one place, allows SMEs to do this, all with the benefits of integration, extensibility, analytics, and one data model.

No business does business alone

We have seen significant disruption of supply chain networks and operations worldwide, with businesses having to find alternative suppliers and markets for growth. In fact, many businesses have learnt not to “put all their eggs in one basket”, and that no business does business alone – particularly highlighting the importance of strong business networks that help connect buyers and suppliers across the world amidst disruption.

For SMEs, being connected and part of a network can help open the door to a major B2B marketplace and potentially large opportunities for other organizations looking for specialized goods and services. In a sense, this allows niche, previously unknown small businesses to break into the global marketplace and quickly fulfil supply shortages and unearth business opportunities with much larger enterprises.

The SAP Business Network forms the world’s largest business network, combining SAP’s leading networks – Ariba Network, Logistics Business Network, Asset Intelligence Network – into a single portal. By joining this new network, businesses can expand opportunities beyond their pool usual suppliers or buyers and unlock new business opportunities across the entire network.

Sustainability – the green line

At SAPPHIRE NOW, SAP released a portfolio of new sustainability-specific products which enables businesses to embed sustainability within their core business functions – tracking sustainability through product lifecycle and end-to-end visibility across the business.

Increasingly, the spotlight has been cast on businesses around sustainability, as awareness on global warming and unethical practices continue to be of focus with calls for businesses’ accountability by governments and consumers alike. To win the hearts and minds of customers, it’s crucial for businesses to ensure sustainable practices and transparency across their business – not just at the raw material or production stage, but across their entire supply chain network.

Besides taking the step towards accountability and creating a positive impact on societies they operate in, having visibility across their supply chain allows businesses to weed out inefficiencies and manage carbon footprint and unsustainable practices.

Towards Asia’s new era of growth, empowering our sustainable future

The recent disruptive events are a salient reminder of the importance of not resting on one’s laurels. The key to long-term success of Asia’s growth is underpinned by the transformation of businesses towards intelligent enterprises – where the evolving landscape requires companies to adapt with agility, resilience, and swiftness.

As SMEs take this bold step in redefining themselves, it makes our work at SAP impactful when we are able to help and enable our customers towards a digital future. Together with our partner ecosystem, we can work hand in hand with SMEs to provide solutions and a tailored approach to their future business growth.

When SMEs succeed, economies thrive. I’m looking forward to this near future with businesses becoming well-poised to take advantage of the next stage of growth, and tapping into the world’s largest network, scale up growth opportunities far beyond their shores.

Catch the replay of my session with Pannie Sia, Vice President and Head of Midmarket, SAP SEA at SAPPHIRE NOW.

Claus Andresen is senior vice president and head of Midmarket for SAP APJ.