Anyone paying attention to SAP has heard about the significance of the Intelligent Enterprise – SAP’s three-part vision that brings together a superior digital platform, an intelligent suite, and technologies like AI and machine learning to help customers focus on higher-value outcomes. However, during the 2019 SAP Global Partner Summit in Orlando, Timo Elliott, Global Innovation Evangelist at SAP, emphasized that businesses of all sizes can be a part of this phenomenon.
“When we talk about the Intelligent Enterprise, it isn’t about a particular vendor or technology stack. It’s a vision of how organizations of any size can use the latest technologies to optimize their customer experiences, increase profitability, and engage their workforce in new ways,” Elliott explained in his session titled, “The Intelligent Enterprise for SMEs: A Small Company Can Do Big Things.”
Elliott believes now is the start of the Golden Age for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). For the first time in history – thanks to the cloud – “you don’t have to be a big company to have a big vision.” The cloud is leveling the playing field. A small or medium-sized company like the local independently owned supermarket has the same possibilities as a large chain like Wal-Mart or Target.
In fact, according to Elliott, many small, family-owned companies are at the forefront of digital. This is because the people making the decisions are far closer to the day-to-day interactions with their customers than the suits in big enterprises. “Unlike larger organizations, their strategy isn’t based on corporate KPIs,” he explained. “Instead, it’s based on deeply-held, unwavering commitment to providing the best possible customer experience.”
Enter the Intelligent Enterprise
According to Elliott, the single most important asset of the future is data – the foundation of the Intelligent Enterprise. Intelligent enterprises can access data analytics like never before, allowing companies to peer deeper into business processes and more accurately simulate the outcome of different choices – thereby mitigating risk. SMEs are at a particular advantage to make use of this data because of less-complex business models, fewer decision-makers, and greater data consistency.
Partners + SMEs = Opportunity
One of the challenges smaller companies face is they often do not have a lot of technical expertise in-house. This is a perfect opportunity for SAP partners to simplify solutions so individuals within these companies can manage the software without an IT background.
Additionally, partners offer a wealth of knowledge in terms of cross-industry business awareness, allowing them to share information with customers on best practices, Elliott pointed out.
Why SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise Vision Is Ideal for SMEs
“As a smaller organization, you can start wherever you like, with whatever is most urgent for your business needs,” Timo explained. “It could be your customer experience, or improving productivity, or helping your employees adapt to digital transformation, or travel and expenses, or purchasing.”
From there, SMEs can continue to build, adding more solutions to create end-to-end business processes – a hallmark of the intelligent enterprise. “For example, if you want to provide a truly unique customer experience, you also have to be able to produce and deliver in custom ways, which means tight integration between your external web site and your factory management systems,” said Elliott.
Since SAP’s applications are indeed intelligent, they leverage machine learning so that business processes can improve over time, automatically.
There also lies a significant advantage for SMEs, one that is not often afforded to large enterprise – agility. “Agility is vital, and smaller organizations are naturally more agile than large organizations,” Elliott said. “By adopting the latest technology, SMEs have an opportunity to adapt faster to changes in the business and in the market, and quickly pivot business processes to deliver on the greatest customer opportunities.”