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Flexibility, innovations and digitization - to be or not to be for your business in 2021
By Renata Rokita, SAP Intelligent Enterprise Partner Ambassador, Head of SAP Consulting, SI-Consulting, Poland
Nothing is as certain as change. What may surprise us is the ever-increasing scope and speed of these changes. Companies facing the pandemic crisis are now experiencing the impulse for change on an enormous scale. Companies need to move forward not “only” to be competitive and successful, but just to survive. As a result, the current trends in business process development, as well as in the technologies supporting it, also sped up and got stronger. The most important trends currently observed, and most likely continuing in this year just beginning, are:
• Optimization of internal processes. Increasing cost efficiency by simplifying business processes, digitizing and automating them. We are currently observing a rapidly-growing interest of companies in document management, workflow or RPA (Robotic Process Automation) solutions. Companies are also looking for solutions related to cash management, debt collection and management, as well as tax optimization.
• Optimization of supply chains. Phenomena with global impact, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and BREXIT, have exposed weaknesses in global supply chains. Many companies faced problems with the supply of basic components for production. In such a situation, solutions supporting forecasting, planning and control processes within the entire logistics chain are necessary. The need to ensure flexibility and quick diversification of supplies will make open procurement platforms (like SAP Ariba) more and more popular.
• IT infrastructure in the cloud. In an extremely unstable business environment, some companies experience unprecedented difficulties. Others, in the same time, experience growth beyond their wildest expectations.
This increases the interest in solutions that allow quick and flexible scaling of the necessary infrastructure to current needs. In addition, using the cloud, the organization gets rid of the need to manage IT infrastructure processes itself. These, on the one hand, are not their core processes, but on the other – they are usually of critical importance for the company. Handing them over to providers, who professionally deliver cloud or outsourcing services, results in increased reliability and incomparably higher flexibility, with optimized costs.
• Business analytics. It is currently difficult to accurately predict the market situation. And making good business decisions without having permanent access to the latest and reliable information is almost impossible. We anticipate growing interest in reporting solutions, especially predictive analytics and real-time online reporting tools (e.g. SAP Analytics Cloud).
• Digitization of consumer sales channels. There is an enormous growth already visible in the B2C (Business to Customer) online sales channel. Many companies have been forced to develop the e-commerce sales channel due to the paralysis of traditional sales channels caused by the pandemic. This trend will continue in the near future. Companies that have not used this sales channel so far or have used temporary solutions, implemented in a hurry caused by the pandemic, will be looking for more professional e-commerce solutions. We have already noted a significant increase in interest in the SAP Commerce Cloud platform in 2020. Moreover, since most consumers have moved to online channels, at least to some extent, much more analytical information will be available to study their behavior, habits and decisions. This will most likely also increase the interest of companies in solutions that analyze and manage Customer Experience.
• Digitization of sales in B2B (Business to Business) channels. The traditional B2B sales model, based largely on the personal relationship between the seller and the customer, has been destroyed by the pandemic restrictions. Also in this area we observe increased need for development of online communication solutions – commerce platforms (e.g. SAP Commerce Cloud) and self-service portals that allow customers to independently manage orders, deliveries, payments, credit limits, etc.
The year 2020 gave us an impulse to change the way we work. We have been forced to adopt digital solutions in many aspects of our lives. Physical meetings have been replaced by online meetings. The digital signature has become the basic form of document acceptance in the company. Employees working in the home-office will no longer produce and exchange paper documents – they will use e-mail’s, cloud document repositories, and other applications supporting teamwork. Such experiences will make both employees and managerial staff open to innovations. They will be more open minded, willing to use solutions that have not been considered so far. Hence, one of the most important trends in the near future will be faster and easier adoption of technological innovations, such as blockchain, AR / VR, AI, RPA or IoT. It will also increase the adoption of cloud applications that allow to provide personalized services and selected predefined business processes in a fast and flexible way. Flexibility and innovation will be a key success factors in 2021.