Innovate, upskill, transform, repeat – this is a continuous cycle since digital transformation permeated across businesses and into societies. The evolving business models may have pitchforked many organisations to adopt technology-led transformations in lockstep with the changes, however a more careful consideration will help to create next-level growth in the future.

First, there is no cookie-cutter approach to techcelerate business in the vibrant marketplace of Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ)

For a region that is made up of 90% SMEs and a rising number of soonicorns, next-level digitalisation looks very different from one business to another; the focus for businesses in their start-up phase varies greatly from those with multimillion-dollar revenue turnover. When discussing the digital core with customers across the region, I encourage them to take a long-term view when deciding what their top needs are, and the technologies required to support those needs to run their business better.

While it’s prudent to weigh each business investment against a set of key performance metrics, business leaders need to understand that at times, the value from technology enablement can weigh beyond traditional ROI measurement. Increasingly, especially in today’s volatile environment, the returns on investment for digitalisation are showing up in alternative forms, such as solving imminent prickly or unseen issues specific to a particular industry. Beyond looking at immediate top and bottom lines, organisations should consider what business agility and future-readiness look like for their unique operations, and how to utilise technology to accelerate that.

Not only does a cooker-cutter approach fall short in keeping pace with the change for modern businesses, but it is also a stumbling block when IT has to custom-code a new capability for every new business request. This creates complex coding, interoperability issues, and hinders transformation to the cloud. That is why businesses should adopt a clean core policy and leverage extensible cloud-based platforms such as SAP S/4HANA Cloud ERP to create an environment that ensures long-term scalability. Solution bundles such as RISE with SAP that offers customers business-transformation-as-a-service, can further smoothen the migration to the cloud and help avoid costly system upgrades.

You don’t have to be a big company to have a big vision

It is not about how big an organisation is or how it’s implementing a particular vendor solution or technology stack, it’s about the vision of turning data into actionable business intelligence. Intelligence and adaptation go hand in glove to build future-readiness – leveraging relevant data to gain knowledge and anticipate problems, and in turn using the knowledge to continually adapt to new situations and make informed decisions.

The pandemic and geopolitical disruptions have triggered a sea change in attitudes towards technology’s transformative power for businesses of all sizes – an important step towards creating Intelligent, Sustainable Enterprises. SAP is helping our customers become intelligent, sustainable enterprises by employing tools to understand what’s happening across your business and why, infuse AI and machine learning to make better decisions, embed sustainable practices into business strategy and operations, and build flexible value chains with leading-edge industry practices. SMEs have an advantage with generally less-complex business models, more agile decision-making, and more compact teams – to leapfrog larger enterprises at that.

Identify your business North Stars

To realise that “next level” vision, enterprises must recalibrate for long-term business resilience. For fast-growing SMEs, the opportunities to create a competitive edge could be multifarious. From enhancing process efficiency and productivity, meeting rapidly changing customer needs, evaluating new business models, improving partner and employee experience, managing environmental impact, to adapting to geopolitical volatility – the list can go on. With an ever-growing business wish list, defining your company’s north star provides a strategic charter that takes your business to the next level. During the pandemic, we saw enterprises stepping up on flexibility to keep business as usual. Now, we want organisations to double down on agility to build future-readiness for the next decade.

Intelligent automation and cloud-enabled tech services have never been discussed so heavily since the dawn of the Internet. Across industries, businesses are recognising these technologies as a green beacon of transformation to optimise customer experience, improve profitability, and engage their workforce in new ways. Once you have identified your north stars, SAP can help to analyse your plans and timelines, review the emerging business model, and provide industry advisory to draw up your implementation roadmap. Through SAP Cloud Success Services, we help customers define what success looks like and recommend the right technology capabilities to make that happen.

Leverage technology to achieve your ambitions

Regardless of where your company is on your digital transformation journey, every business has its “next level” digitalisation. From business networks and supply chain optimisation, intelligent spend management, to sustainability management, you can bring together business areas and solutions to scale fast and achieve lasting success. Critical to that is an extensible digital core and the interoperability to stitch together different sources that enable new innovations. SAP’s SME-friendly modular cloud solutions have supported our customers in their growth ambitions, sweating existing investments and helping them evolve at every stage of the transformation journey.

Learning from best practices is a good start. What’s more critical is identifying the competitive edge that would define your future-ready, sustainable enterprise and allow technology to do the rest.