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Digital is a “Way of Doing Business”


I started my technology career as a SAP junior consultant and got SAP certified in FI-CO in 1997. I use SAPPHIRE Orlando to keep up with what’s new. A lot has changed with SAP since I started using it 20 years ago, but it is true with all types of technology– technology never stands still.

During the SAP Sapphire keynote Tuesday morning in Orlando, the company introduced SAP C/4 Hana and Intelligent Enterprise. Digital is the buzz word around many presentations. Many of the conference attendees, the largest Sapphire attendance ever, are here to catch up with what’s new with digital enabling technologies. Here are my key takeaways from Sapphire 2018 so far. (see SAP published Sapphire presentations)

sap

What is digital?

At one point during the key note, SAP presenters discussing Intelligent Suite showed a roadmap that does not resemble a roadmap to which we are accustomed. Then the SAP presenter said, our partners like Deloitte have started building industry digital business blueprints that can be applicable to different industries. I took it as a validation that digital is not the application systems and not even a platform. Digital is not a “thing”, it is not a role, it is not a program– digital is a way of doing business.

For some businesses, digital allows consumers to have a personalized experience by touching, feeling and understanding products and services. This means understanding customer behaviors and being closely attuned to how customer decision journeys are evolving. Digital transformation is not really about technologies. Existing digital technologies are accessible to all companies. The key is using these technologies to find value at the new frontiers of business. (see what is digital for Adidas) Being digital is not being afraid to use emerging technologies to solve business problems. Being digital requires being innovative and pushing the boundaries even on areas where success is not guaranteed the first time. “Learn fast and then just move on and find a different way to solve the same problem”, says Bharti Airtel’s Global CIO Harmeen Mehta, winner of the 2018 MIT Sloan CIO.

What is Me2B or Me to Business?

We are familiar with the buzz word B2B (business to business) or B2C (business to consumers) but what is Me2B  (Me to business)? Digital is no longer just a way to engage customers and consumers for a personalized experience. The advent of digital manufacturing, machine learning, blockchain, Intelligent supply chain, and artificial intelligence (A.I.) allow consumers to personalize design of the products they want based on current trends. As brands in the future will be mainly shaped by consumers, digital as a new way of doing business puts the customer as the point of focus. “Trust is the ultimate human currency”, says Bill McDermott, CEO of SAP as he unveils C/4 Hana (see demo of SAP C/4 Hana), an integrated platform that will allow business to see a single view of its customer. During his keynote, McDermott described how humans and computers will work hand in hand in A.I. scenarios to link consumers on the move with modern supply chains.

What is Intelligent Enterprise?

To go with SAP co-founder Hasso Plattner’s definition, Intelligent Enterprise is not a marketing buzz, but a logical consequence of what is happening today in technology and modern applications. In the middle of this capability is the SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Leonardo (see SAP Leonardo demo) and SAP Data Management Suite surrounded by its core systems such as S/4 Hana, C/4 Hana, SAP SuccessFactor, SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass and SAP Concur. Intelligent Enterprise is not a product, it is an ecosystem or integration of these systems, not limited to SAP products, where collaboration can create intelligent enterprise capabilities. (see Hasso Plattner explain Intelligent Enterprise) Talking about intelligent capability, I also arranged for a personal walk-through of IBM Watson while at SAPPHIRE. It is probably the most widely known and used AI capability out there. “When you are starting to use Watson, it’s like training a baby by feeding her tons of information”, says Shaun Mitra an IBM Watson expert. The only difference, Watson can process it faster, 500 gigabytes of data or equivalent to a million books per second. Watson API is available to developers to create applications leveraging its cognitive capabilities. In the demo, I saw how Watson works with the SAP ecosystem and SAP Leonardo, further empowering intelligent enterprise capabilities.

Intelligent Enterprise is not a marketing buzz, but a logical consequence of what is happening today in technology and modern applications. – Hasso Plattner 

How do you develop a digital business model? “By innovating anywhere, from core to edge”, says Darwin Deano, Deloitte’s SAP CTO. Innovation and transformation are the means to achieve a digital business model using existing and emerging technology platforms. Digital is a shared responsibility between business and IT. There must be convergence of business and IT to drive successful and sustainable digital business transformation.

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