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I’m a big Will Smith fan. And with the third installment of his sci-fi action comedy coming out soon, I always thought MIB stood for – Men in Black. But, at the SAPPHIRE NOW event last week I found out that in the techno-business world it actually stands for Multi-Industry Businesses!

It turns out businesses today, more than ever before, are extending beyond their traditional industry boundaries to explore emerging market opportunities and to satisfy new customer needs. I had the privilege of speaking with a number of industry practitioners at SAPPHIRE NOW event and heard it firsthand from them on how almost every industry is going through a transformation process. A few examples that stuck out for me were:

  • Hi-tech companies moving into retailing e.g. Apple and Microsoft opening up their own branded stores
  • Wholesale distributors moving into retailing or into manufacturing to best meet their customers’ needs and their own financial metrics
  • Industrial machinery and component manufacturers aggressively adding services to their repertoire
  • Utilities getting into managing assets and products beyond just power
  • Telco companies thinking beyond Telco 2.0 and transforming themselves into more entertainment and services companies

In fact, I was chatting with Dr. Kerstin Geiger, EVP Global Head of Industry Solutions at SAP just before she got up on stage to give her presentation at SAPPHIRE NOW. And, she mentioned how business transformation is even impacting SAP. Over the last couple of years SAP has expanded its business via M&A as well as organic growth into four adjacent market categories of Analytics, Mobility, Cloud and Database & Technology. So, SAP is not only helping its installed base of over 190,000 companies globally evolve but also is experiencing its own business model transformation and target market expansion.

The key question in my mind is how SAP is helping our customers achieve this value chain and business model transformation. Simply put, how is SAP helping businesses become multi-industry businesses? Based on my observations and numerous conversations last week, here’s the summary of what I gleaned from these experts at the SAPPHIRE NOW event:

  • Having deep industry & sub-industry knowledge and benchmarking of the key performance indicators is important. This type of outside-in evaluation tells the companies how they are performing against the best run businesses in their industry and where they need to focus on next. Needless to say such intelligence is important for your core industry as well as all adjacencies you may be involved in
  • It’s critical to have a single IT platform across the enterprise with flexible& integrated software to grow with your business, without having to rip and replace every time your business model changes or expands. Are you able to quickly turn-off and turn-on business processes as your requirements change or as your corporate strategy dictates? Is IT enabling business to have the insight to take advantage of the market opportunities and drive profitable growth? The companies that find the balance between the IT and business value tend to be in the upper right quadrant of performance in their industries.
  • Take advantage of preconfigured best practices built over 40 years of experience with deep industry-specific capabilities across all 24 industries that SAP supports. These best practices are available for all the major solutions from SAP like ERP, Business All in One etc. Additionally, SAP has been actively rolling out packages or Rapid Deployment Solutions (RDS) for specific products e.g. SAP Extended Warehouse Management, CRM Sales, COPA on HANA, Spend Management etc. These are for a fixed scope and price. These packages are helping customers implement solutions rapidly and drive business value quickly.
  • Embrace technologies like in-memory computing, analytics, mobile and cloud for faster innovation, growth and more powerful business models. A number of great customer examples like Burberry, Charmer Sunbelt, Adobe and others across most industries were highlighted during Bill McDermott’s and Vishal Sikka’s keynotes. It’s inspiring to see these companies take advantage of the breakthrough technologies like SAP HANA and differentiate themselves in the market place. So can you.

As I excitedly await the release of Men in Black 3 on May 25th, I will certainly be thinking of MIB in my industry and how I can be helping my industry transform and run like never before!

Neetin Datar is the Social Media Ambassador for the Run Better campus at SAPPHIRE NOW annual conference and is the Senior Director of Industry Marketing for Wholesale Distribution at SAP. His enterprise software experience spans ERP, E-commerce, Global Trade, GRC, Warehouse Management and Distribution markets. He has been with SAP since 1994 and is passionate about technology and its use by distributors to run better.

Please follow me on Twitter at @neetin_datar

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