SAP Africa – Journey to the Intelligent Enterprise
SAP today is the global leader in business applications and analytics software, a market leader in digital commerce, and the world’s largest enterprise cloud company with over 195 million cloud users. We have over 437,000 customers in more than 180 countries, from small companies (80% of our customers are small and mid-size enterprises) to global organizations (92% of the Forbes Global 2000 companies run SAP software). Our customers distribute 78% of the world’s food and 82% of the world’s medical devices. Globally, more than 78% of all business transactions worldwide touch an SAP software system. SAP has some valuable advice on how businesses can prepare to maximise the benefits offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution while minimising the risks posed.
SAP Africa focuses on helping companies of all sizes and in all industries to essentially transform, grow and run at their best using digital technologies.
“Our end-to-end suite of applications and services enables our customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference,” explains Rudeon Snell, the Director of Intelligent Enterprise Solutions for SAP Africa. “Our transformative purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. There is a massive opportunity for us to exercise this ambition in the African continent with the support of our global network of customers, partners and employees.”
Of course, “Intelligent Enterprise” sounds like a great idea. Who wouldn’t be in favour of that? But in an era full of tech buzz words businesses can be forgiven for being a little suspicious of the term. However, Snell’s explanation is surprisingly nuts and bolts.
“Generally speaking, our customers are typically focused on solving their business problems, delivering business value to their customers and executing on their strategic imperatives,” Snell points out. “When we developed the Intelligent Enterprise Framework, our goal was to consider the evolving nature of our customers’ landscapes and how we can enable them to drive business outcomes that directly influences the top and bottom line of their organisations in an accelerated fashion.”
It’s not just about improving how you do business, but about responding to a rapidly shifting business world. We live in the Age of Intelligence, where exponential technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Advanced Analytics, Blockchain, Big Data and more are going from cutting edge to prevalent through industry and commerce.
“We have adopted the view that Intelligence is most valuable to the business when it’s embedded directly into the processes of that business, and those processes are then integrated utilizing consistent, trusted data, across the enterprise,” Snell says. “As such, our ambition is to embed intelligence into the organisation’s processes natively so that the focus can shift to higher levels of value add and driving key business outcomes such as improving customer experience, helping employees be more productive, optimising operations and efficiencies and transforming products and services at an accelerated pace. This is no different to how electricity has become embedded into most households where we focus on outcomes that are enabled through the technology, as opposed to focusing on the actual technology.”
This focus on technology as leverage, rather than a means to an end, is what Snell believes gives SAP Africa the edge when competing in what many are calling the “4th Industrial Revolution”.
“(Author and tech policy expert) Alec Ross talks a lot about how every age has a key enabler that can be leveraged for transformative impact,” Snell explains. “For example, Land was the raw material of the agriculture age; Iron was the raw material of the industrial age. In the information age, it’s data.”
SAP Africa has a long-standing advantage of deep industry expertise and a presence inside nearly every industry. 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches a SAP system and with the company’s global reach of over 350k customers in 180 different countries, industry-leading customers all rely on SAP to help them optimise their businesses today and re-imagine their business for tomorrow.
“As SAP, we owe it to our customers to help them serve their customers in unique and differentiated ways,” Snell says. “We empower our customers to achieve this ambition, by bringing the Intelligent Enterprise to life for every one of our customers, in every industry so they can unlock new value and new possibilities.”
Revolutionary Customer Experience
The 4th Industrial Revolution is changing businesses in more subtle ways as well. In recent years we’ve seen companies in everything from the automotive industry to finance to videogames slowly pivoting away from selling a “product” and instead selling a “service”. The next step in that evolution is to sell an “experience”.
Snell points out, “Today, we live in the Age of Experience. Our customers are more empowered than ever to seek value and gratification for their demands. This age is augmented by the rise of exponential technologies such as AI, IoT, Big Data, Advanced Analytics etc. Customers today, especially millennials and gen Zs yearn for memorable, differentiated experiences that they can share on social media platforms above just products and services.”
SAP Africa is the ideal guide for this new environment, and Snell has a thorough understanding of just how demanding the modern consumer can be.
“Customers today want their needs and wants instantly gratified,” he says. “There is immense pressure on brands to meet these rising consumer expectations with customers more able than ever to vote with their money if their wants go unmet. SAP’s ambition is to empower our customers with the ability to serve their customers better and the key for us in the experience economy, ensure that our customers are able to manage their customers’ journey at the most optimal level, every single step of the way. We believe that to successfully deliver on the promise of the Experience Economy, brands must ensure that value is united around a customer vision where experience is embedded in the value delivery of the brand.”
If you want to know the future, look to the past, and SAP Africa’s history has always placed it just ahead of the curve thanks to a strategy that is relentlessly focused on seeing where the world is going. Their plans going forward are very similar.
“With our recent acquisition of Qualtrics, SAP has an unprecedented ability to lead in the Age of Intelligent Experience,” Snell says. “This is achieved through combining the power of human sentiment analysis and operational data to create the best experiences in the Age of Intelligence. By harnessing our ability to deliver a fully integrated suite of business applications such as C/4 HANA , infused with intelligent technologies such as Machine Learning, Conversational AI, Robotics Process Automation etc. and powered by our unrivalled digital core (S/4 HANA), we are able to double down on our longstanding advantage in deep industry and line of business expertise, accelerating value realization for our customers, so they can serve their customers better.”
It’s a mission the company takes to heart, and SAP itself is dedicated to a constant process of improvement to meet their customers needs.
As Snell concludes, “Our focus for the future will be to focus on how we ensure we make the company a better version of itself than what it was yesterday; to ensure we craft solutions that drive higher levels of value and impact than they did the week before; to focus on continuously becoming a better version of ourselves making sure the work we are delivering today is better than the work we delivered yesterday and ultimately embracing the fact that the joy of helping the world run better and improving people’s lives come from continually advancing ourselves.”