Connecting Digital Fault Lines Reveals A Future Of Business Resilience

By David Sweetman, Senior Director, Global Product Marketing, SAP S/4HANA

(This story is Part 3 in the “The ERP Edge” series)

Businesses and their employees, suppliers, and sales partners can take a wide variety of paths before connecting with each other and delivering the experience customers expect. But the journey is rarely as straightforward as it should be. Instead, significant challenges, including unpredictable material availability, strict regulations, supplier risks, weather-induced transit rerouting, and fluctuating customer demands emerge unexpectedly and threaten the value chain’s stability. 

Today’s economic uncertainty is not making the ability to overcome such a complex landscape any easier. Now more than ever, companies must connect the digital fault lines of their disjointed applications, data sources, and processes to strike a sustainable balance between resource utilization and capital leverage throughout the value chain.

Moving from a static past to real-time synchronization

Globally uncertain times require businesses to shift to a digital-first approach quickly – and not a moment can be wasted. According to IDC, digitally transformed enterprises have eight times more revenue and two times more profitability, while small and midsize businesses are more likely to report double-digit growth and higher profitability. 

However, Joshua Greenbaum, principal of Enterprise Applications Consulting, recently reminded us that such a digital transformation is anything but a single, unique path. “Few companies have the luxury of a complete wall-to-wall reset from old to new, from on-premise to cloud, and from inward-facing systems to customer-facing systems,” he advises. “Many companies’ digital transformations need to be targeted at specific opportunities or threats and can’t be applied to all systems and processes at once.” 

Greenbaum’s insights uncover two fundamental digital strategy requirements: technology choice and the sophistication and openness of business connectedness. The concept of these two conditions is at the center of Intelligent ERP.

When combined by a single platform, choice and connectedness allow companies to adapt and respond to change faster and more effectively. Product supplies can be adjusted in real time to meet fluctuations in customer demand and resource availability. The workforce can be scaled and augmented as production capacity, logistics, and service requirements shift. Best of all, R&D investments are made to add considerable value to the overall operation and customer experience. 

Take, for example, Sabre. The leading travel solution provider is evolving its business intelligence approach to accelerate its response to market fluctuations and help a competitive, multitrillion-dollar industry – which includes airlines, hotels, and travel agencies – transform the traveler experience.

As customers grew to favor digital technology such as software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications and cloud offerings, Sabre decided to modernize its IT landscape to continue the trajectory of its business growth. The company implemented Intelligent ERP across eight languages, various currencies, and bank accounts through a privately managed cloud. The company then added a suite of SaaS applications into the mix, which allowed the business to transform its structure from a static mainframe operation to one of connectedness, flexibility, speed, and quality.

This agile, greenfield approach empowers Sabre to dig deeper into its data to uncover changes in market dynamics, learn about influencing factors, and test scenarios to address them. After simplifying data models, back-end processes, and organizational hierarchy, the company is accelerating its response to customer needs, provisioning new software, and creating innovations that deliver value-adding offerings.

Finding value in intelligent visibility with data-driven connectedness

As companies like Sabre are beginning to understand, businesses can no longer operate with siloed information and linear workflows. 

Staying ahead in this connected world requires the ability to adapt quickly and with a high level of visibility and real-time insight that only Intelligent ERP can provide. By synchronizing data and processes rapidly and carefully, the technology gives businesses the support needed to meet customer expectations no matter how turbulent the economy.

Be sure to visit “The ERP Edge” series to learn how your company can take charge of workplace changes faster, meet shifts in customer demand more effectively, and flexibly support new business models.

In addition, feel free to explore today’s business challenges and the best way to move with resilience and intelligence in the IDC market spotlight, “Digital Transformation in Times of Change: What Intelligent Enterprises Need from Their ERP Systems,” sponsored by SAP.

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