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Author's profile photo David Fowler

The Future of Business: Hello, Simplicity. Goodbye, Complexity

The Future of Business: Hello, Simplicity. Goodbye, Complexity.

As we plunge into the future of business, the concept of simplification is taking on a new life. Consumers are more connected than ever before, empowering them to seek easier, faster access and richer experiences in every interaction. We’re all consumers, so we’ve all gotten used to this. So much that now, we expect the same experience at work.

The message is loud and clear – it’s time to simplify business-to-business interactions.

In the second season of “The Future of Business with Game Changers,” a special edition series of SAP Radio, experts will give their views and insights into the different critical aspects of how businesses will need to change over the next decade. The first show, “Future of Business Simplification: Bye-Bye complexity,” took a look at the current state of simplicity and whether it’s possible to achieve true simplicity. The panel featured Richard Edwards, Principal Analyst at Ovum; Manish P. Nirmal, Leader of Sales and Strategy for Application Delivery Management Solutions at HP; and Michele Weber, VP of Growth Marketing for SAP North America.

Complexity kills

Richard Edwards kicked off the discussion by reflecting on the risk of complexity. “Complexity is generally used to define anything with a lot of parts that interact with each other in a variety of ways, producing outcomes that aren’t predictable,” he stated. This is especially true when these parts are operating beyond their original design specifications and use cases.

Edwards observed, “Complexity really does drain energy from business users, developers, IT departments, partners, and customers. It makes business systems difficult to plan, build, test, and use.” In the quest for increased simplicity and improved collaboration, business users are innovating and taking technology used in their personal lives and integrating it in their business processes. For IT professionals, this means that they face multiple unknowns in the IT infrastructure – creating a whole new level of complexity to the overall business.

As time goes by and IT products mature, complexity becomes inevitable. According to Edwards, “Complexity usually shows up as quirks in a system that can make it difficult for people to perform their jobs and fulfill their roles. From an organizational perspective, these quirks can escalate and increase the overall cost of doing business. Organizations must, therefore, plan for ‘obsolescence’ and system retirement if they want to simplify their business processes and operations.”

Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result

Manish Nirmal continued Edwards’ thoughts by observing the human desire to solve complex problems with simple solutions. “Enterprise companies are trying to change and simplify. However, they’re using an approach that looks at the organization first and changes it in the hopes of simplifying it,” he speculated. 

By neglecting the people, processes, and problems that business leaders are trying to solve with reorganizing, complexity increases because processes are changed after the fact while the workforce becomes more disgruntled and disengaged. Nirmal believes that processes and products should be reviewed first: “Because processes drive organizational structure, leaders have to cater to a different type of organization when changing processes. In my view, organizational shifts should come last because people need to fit into the new processes outlined.” 

Enterprise companies should look at the consumer-driven market for leadership in this area. Just look at the rise of mobile apps and how we use them in our daily lives. Nirmal advised, “By introducing similar functionality into enterprise systems, businesses can simplify tasks. But this is just one step towards simplicity – enterprises still have a long way to go.” 

Don’t settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable

Michele Weber acknowledged that we do have the capabilities to be remarkable. “We have unprecedented access to people, capital, infrastructure, information, and technology. Plus, we are now experiencing a perfect storm of technology innovation with the convergence of cloud, social, mobile, and Big Data,” she cited.

As a collective result of these trends, people are empowered to work faster, smarter, and simpler in all facets of their lives. “Because we have access to this transformational technology, we want everything in real time and instantly. And we don’t just want to experience this in our consumer lives, we expect the same in our work lives, too,” Weber noted.

“The key to simplicity is to flex a new leadership style to master complexity to your full advantage. Doing so enables you to increase your opportunity for innovation,” she mentioned. Businesses need to run in real time to facilitate personalized engagement with customers. However, years of siloed business processes and disconnected solutions for every business challenge has created a seemingly new standard of complexity. This forces businesses to find a way to manage data and use it to their advantage – unlocking the secrets inside this data to present breakthrough opportunities.

Just imagine how much faster, smarter, and simpler the world can become if businesses:

  • Deliver ato customers at the right time
  • Give employees the right tools and insights to make the right decisions
  • Positionace whenever the market changes
  • Grow and thrive when connecting to their customers and business partners

What can you accomplish with greater simplicity in your personal and work life?

Listen to a replay of this edition of the Future of Business with Game Changers series, presented by SAP Radio. 

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