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The world is going digital and the pace of change is accelerating rapidly. By 2020, experts predict that:

  • There will be 200 billion connected devices across the Internet of Things[1]
  • Some 90% of the world’s population over six years old will have a mobile device[2]
  • B2B e-commerce sales will top $1 trillion[3]

To meet these challenges, executives like you need to develop a solid plan that will help you gain maximum advantage from digital transformation. Unfortunately, real knowledge about how to create a solid digital transformation plan is pretty scarce right now. But you can’t afford to wait until this knowledge is commonplace. The stakes are too high.

Learn from the leaders

What are the key steps you can take to move from theory to digital reality? Consider how leading companies are executing their digital transformation.

In the retail industry, for example, first movers are taking steps to create a more enjoyable consumer experience. Savvy retailers are participating in the conversation with consumers – no matter which device or medium the customer chooses. They’re developing a visible social presence, so they can listen to consumers and deliver the experiences they want. They are also creating a universal access point for customers – via mobile, stores, or Web sites – so that they can continue the conversation throughout the buying experience. And they are working to enable a single view of the customer and of inventory.

These changes are helping retailers deliver the right product or service at the right time and at the right price. When problems occur, they make sure customers receive proactive assistance and rapid resolution. By simplifying interactions with customers, retailers tend to sell much more.

What’s the best path to digital transformation?

Although there’s no single answer for all companies, it’s clear that creating an effective customer engagement strategy is essential. Only then can you know what’s happening with your customers, how to be where they are, and how to start mutually rewarding discussions with them. We think this means going beyond CRM to a strategy that helps you harness insight so you can better plan, forecast, and deliver what customers want.

Equally important is the recognition that digital transformation is a journey, not a single act. Don’t be afraid to engage in provocative discussions about emerging business models, processes that extend beyond your enterprise, and network impacts – with both LOB and board executives. And then get to work on a few high-priority projects. Depending on your goals, these might range from setting up elegant marketing and customer engagement strategies to completing redefining your corporate mission and strategy, or something in between.

Whatever you choose, don’t be afraid to ask for help mapping out the journey. In our experience, approximately 95% of all executives know they need a digital transformation strategy, but only 15% have one today. That means you are not alone in needing to close the gap that will help you realize your goals.

Imagine what’s possible – today

Perhaps the biggest surprise for some business leaders is that the technology needed to facilitate digital transformation is already available. It provides real-time insight and access to data, works in the cloud, and can help your company move with unprecedented speed.

Digital transformation can be confusing and intimidating. But it also presents a world of new opportunity – to get closer to your customers, move with greater velocity, and create innovative offerings. Transformation is beginning in the 26 industries where we work, and the impact is revolutionary. We’re ready to help you ignite your imagination and prepare for the possibilities of digital transformation.


Learn more about how industries can confidently embrace the opportunities enabled by digital transformation.


Pat Bakey is President of Industry Cloud at SAP

Follow Pat on Twitter: @PBakey


[1] Intel, A Guide to the Internet of Things Infographic, http://www.intel.com/content/dam/www/public/us/en/images/iot/guide-to-iot-infographic.png

[2] Ericsson, Ericsson Mobility Report Digital Economy Mobile Customer Experience, June 2015, http://www.ericsson.com/res/docs/2015/ericsson-mobility-report-june-2015.pdf

[3] “US B2B Ecommerce Sales to Top $1 Trillion by 2020,” Forrester, April 2, 2015, https://www.forrester.com/US+B2B+eCommerce+Sales+To+Top+1+Trillion+By+2020/-/E-PRE7724

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