Any crisis is ultimately solved by people, said Christian Klein, chief executive officer, chief operating officer and member of the executive board of SAP SE during his keynote at the virtual SAP SAPPHIRE NOW conference this week.
And there are plenty of crises to face; along with COVID-19, the world is facing geopolitical tensions, social injustice, inequality, loss of biodiversity, and climate change.
Over the last year, Klein said that SAP has been listening to its customers and learning how they are coping. Three key insights emerged.
Business process transformation
First, he said, the most resilient companies were those who embraced technology to transform their business processes.
“Let’s face it, digital transformation is a pretty overused term these days,” he said. “And some people tend to call every IoT project a digital transformation. But migrating an IT landscape to a cloud infrastructure alone doesn’t change a single business process. In reality, the COVID-19 crisis has underscored the urgent need for every company to become an intelligent enterprise.”
An intelligent enterprise, he explained, has the courage to leave traditional business models behind and radically change how its business is run. It is enabled by integrated, digitized, agile business processes, powered by data and with embedded artificial intelligence (AI).
The second insight was that no business does business alone. “We win together as a community,” he said. “One intelligent enterprise alone can already achieve great things, but we live in an interconnected world.”
He noted that many of the issues companies have faced during the pandemic were the result of reliance on global supply chains.
“When we look at how enterprises run today, many still manage the complex relationships between suppliers and buyers, logistic providers and manufacturers as static one-to-one connections,” he observed. “COVID showed us just how crucial it is to have real-time transparency across your entire supply chain, which is, by the way, a clear parallel with our daily lives using social networks, such as Facebook, or LinkedIn, or Twitter. The value comes from the network, and the millions of internet connections it facilitates in real-time. But nobody has done this yet for businesses doing business together.”
To help solve this problem, Klein announced that SAP is bringing together Ariba Network, SAP Logistics Business Network, and SAP Asset Intelligence Network into a single entity known as SAP Business Network. A unified trading portal is now available, and SAP will fast track the top 100 suppliers and top 100 carriers onto SAP Business Network within 90 days of go-live for customers who purchase Business Network solutions.
The third insight, Klein said, is the most important one for the future of the planet and our families.
“We must act now on sustainability with the goal of zero emissions, zero waste, and zero inequality,” he said. “It’s time to build sustainability into the fabric of how we do business. It’s time to make sustainability a standard dimension of corporate management, just like productivity or costs. But you can’t act on what you can’t measure. As part of this commitment, SAP will provide standard reporting and analytics on all sustainability metrics of the World Economic Forum, with the intention to help establish them as the global standard.”
He said that the company has created a portfolio of solutions to help customers drive sustainable practices across their entire value chain.
“We will make carbon footprint tracking available in the business network so that you can go to true net-zero. We will let you turn your circular economy vision into reality. We will jointly build networks with you that champion diversity, inclusion and human rights,” he said.