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By now, we’ve all heard the scary prediction: 40% of companies will be dead in 10 years. You can thank digital disruption for that. Businesses the world over are now heeding the call and dealing with how to transform traditional, “pipeline” business models into community-based platforms that connect like-minded people, create social buzz and open up new revenue streams.

As Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Officer for SAP Hybris, puts it: “Digital is no longer a set of marketing channels – it’s become fundamental for everyone,” he said during his opening remarks at a recent SAP Hybris Live Digital Summit.

Sportswear manufacturer Under Armour for example, is embedding digital in the very fabric of their products while investing heavily in a digital ecosystem, good indicators of an oncoming business disintermediation, according to Walker.

“Think about the precipice we are standing on today. Relationships retailers have with consumer goods manufacturers and how distribution channels operate are going to change,” he said.

This same type of disruption will occur in the business-to-business (B2B) world. For manufacturing, the Internet of Things (IoT) will change relationships, sales people and what they provide as more processes become automated. Products will become services, similar to what is transpiring in the transportation and automotive industries. Audi, BMW, Chevrolet and Mercedes-Benz for instance think consumers will simply want access to cars, instead of owning them.

But not every touch-point experiment or innovation will work, according to Walker who said it’s hard to predict how the end customer will react – exactly why companies need to launch and iterate new services quickly.

“You’re going to need a cluster of data services in order to adapt to emerging interactions and touch points,” said Walker.

For instance, driving microservices in the cloud, as a set of adaptable building blocks, will help businesses change the way they sell products. These building blocks have the ability to unleash a lot of potential and configure into unique, customizable environments.

Swiss software provider SAAS Software as a Service AG, for example, has successfully filled a major gap in the German grocery market and adapted to the home delivery trend. SAAS AG realized they could help traditional grocers to easily meet this customer need by connecting their existing business to the right shopping platform. To create the experience they wanted, SAAS AG used a combination of services they subscribed to on the SAP Hybris as a Service marketplace.

“We were able to use the existing storefront template and adapt it and use the single page application concept. So, we’re only maintaining one piece of code for all the tenants,” said Eberhardt Weber, CEO of SAAS AG and founder of Lieferladen.de.

But if you think staying ahead of the digital disruption curve is all about platform, think again. With Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in the air, digital disruption will be a shape-shifting challenge in the foreseeable future. According to Walker, companies like SAP are investing a tremendous amount in the aforementioned due to the ability to take “dark data” and create meaning to better serve customers and optimize the business.

“It fundamentally helps you differentiate the customer experience by embedding digital into the very nature of your products and take things to the next level,” said Walker.

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