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Author's profile photo Karen Lynch

Digital Transformation: Creative Solutions to Imaginary Problems?

I’m a big fan of the Sunday Comics.  Yes, the old-fashioned kind where you sit with your cup of coffee (and for the past few years, my reading glasses), and you crack open that fresh, crisp copy of the Chicago Tribune newspaper (the real, actual paper made from pulp) and read through them with the promise of a chuckle.  And, if it’s a really good Sunday a full out belly laugh.  I also happen to be a big fan of the comic strip called Frazz, by Jef Mallett that, on the surface, is about school custodian Edwin “Frazz” Frazier and the school where he works, but which, according to Mallett, is really about discovery.

You may be asking, what in the world does a comic strip called Frazz have to do with Wholesale Distribution?  Bear with me for a bit – I’m getting there.  On a recent Sunday, the final cell of the comic strip ended with the tagline “creative solutions to imaginary problems”.   This got me thinking:  Is the need to embrace digital transformation in Wholesale Distribution just an imaginary problem looking for creative solutions?

Let’s spend a few minutes exploring this question.

Is the need to better understand your customer’s buying patterns by using analytics, both standard and predictive, so that you understand what they will need, perhaps before they understand what they will need, an imaginary problem?  Not if you hope to compete with the serious disruptors in the marketplace.

Is a desire to share information and automate manual processes with your suppliers so that you can both better serve customers and become more profitable an imaginary problem?  Not if you want to negotiate the best price with your supplier, be one of their preferred customers, and ensure that you aren’t disintermediated.

Is the benefit of understanding which of your customers are truly profitable and which are not an imaginary problem?  Not if you want to take steps to ensure that your most profitable customers remain your most loyal customers.  And, not if you want to explore ways in which to programmatically raise the profitability on those customers where you know you can make a difference.

Is your customer’s expectation to do business with you (B2B) the same as they experience in their personal lives (B2C) an imaginary problem?  Not if you expect to keep your existing customers and attract new (most likely younger) customers.

Are your employee’s requests to eliminate manual tasks by using exception-based solutions that can be accessed on any device an imaginary problem?  Not if you expect to have more productive, engaged employees who want to work for your organization for the long term.

All of these topics, and more, are part of a wholesale distributors digital transformation journey, and they are certainly not imaginary problems.  They are real challenges that face distributors who want to operate more efficiently, grow revenues and profits, and keep their customers loyal and their employees engaged.

SAP can help you discover creative solutions to all of the steps on your journey.  Please visit us at to learn more about the solutions we can provide to help you on the road to digital transformation.

Karen S. Lynch

Global Head of Wholesale Distribution Industry Business Unit at SAP


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