Companies are living organisms in continuous evolution . It is a premise that no one questions today, especially if we pay attention to the evolution that businesses have suffered throughout history; especially in the last decades. In the Middle Ages, productive activity fell mainly on artisans whose income depended on the local reputation they obtained after generations of hard work.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the industrial revolution made maximizing production and lowering costs the main ingredients in the recipe for success, faced with an increasingly demanding market. The globalization of the economy at the end of the last millennium brought with it a notable increase in international trade and the consolidation of sectors such as services or tourism whose hegemony survives today.
But it was the emergence of digital technologies in the 90s that marked a new era , in which we witness the practical reconversion of business models in the key of ones and zeros. Either in internal processes or in order to offer new services, everything is marked by that digital transformation that we have been talking about for years. However, moving economic activity to the digital world is only the beginning of what technology allows at the moment. And some of the firms that starred in that first wave of technification are already positioning themselves for the next great challenge that awaits businesses: becoming not only digital companies, but also smart companies.
This is the case of SAP. Well known for its popular enterprise resource management software (which drastically changed the way companies managed their internal processes to date), the multinational has been complementing its offering to configure a technological platform that covers everything from human resources to customer experience, going through practically all the capillarities that the daily operation of an organization requires that needs to be agile, flexible, open and collaborative at its best.
Wide umbrella that, under the leadership of its CEO – Christian Klein- has been orchestrated around a basic strategy, simple and at the same time cathartic and ambitious: to make the companies of the 21st century able to equip themselves with enough intelligence to listen, understand and act in each area of your particular business to make clearly informed decisions, further automate your processes, or deliver the experiences customers and employees expect.
Until now, we have experienced the rise of the Knowledge Society and the proliferation of information in digital format that has configured a Big Data that we could hardly dream of a few decades ago. But as the numinous guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said, “knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”
That is the next (big) step for the smart company to take: the battle now is not just about gathering data and storing it in a ‘data lake’ while waiting for better times, but about obtaining the precise information at the right time. The ambition is to achieve that visibility that helps leverage experience and operations data and identify patterns and insights that were previously isolated or undetected. And, of course, to make the company’s ears also capture the sounds that come from outside its walls, from that global environment that we mentioned earlier and that seems increasingly convulsive and unpredictable: increase in geopolitical tensions , disruptions in supply chains, rapidly changing markets …
In that sense, SAP believes that an intelligent company is one capable of collecting not only operational data from the company, but also information from its customers, employees, products and brands at each point of contact to create perfect experiences and, at the same time, those that use powerful technologies to detect opportunities, risks and trends.
Both purposes are materialized, where appropriate, with the innovation from the acquired Qualtrics, as well as a complete suite of cloud offerings for the customer experience, marketing, commerce, sales or services. Also from the employees, with the combination of the aforementioned Qualtrics solution with the capabilities of the in-house human resources tool -SAP SucessFactors-, the latest version of its ERP SAP S / 4 HANA and specific solutions for business networks in aspects such as the management of employees and external suppliers (SAP Fieldglass), in the supply chain (SAP Ariba) or the visibility on business trips or professional expenses (SAP Concur).
Continuing with the wisdom of famous quotes, the Spanish politician Juan Donoso Cortés proclaimed that “the important thing is not to listen to what is said, but to find out what is thought . ” And it is that, this listening and active visibility what makes it possible is to understand like never before how the company itself works and allow simulations on the effect that the different available options would have and orient the resources to achieve the maximum impact for the business or satisfaction of employees and consumers. Likewise, understanding this data and interrelating it with each other through artificial intelligence and advanced analytics offers a new scenario when it comes to redesigning work processes,bring together functions and applications within the organization and offer clear metrics to executives to achieve their objectives.
For SAP, the way of understanding what is heard is called the Business Technology Platform; a range of solutions that allow connecting processes and experiences, analyzing data throughout the company and combining machine learning and AI with the experience of human professionals to achieve the best results. This opens the way to direct the business in real time and obtain 360 ° views of the business in question. A platform that, like the previously mentioned technologies, are also protagonists in the last and decisive step for a business to be truly intelligent: taking action based on this valuable and processed information.