“The question is not whether we are able to change but whether we are changing fast enough.” This quote from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with which Bernd Leukert, member of the executive board at SAP SE, began his presentation at Mint Digitalist Forum 2017 by SAP, aptly describes the urgency with which companies need to adopt digital transformation. According to Leukart, the global impact of digital transformation—at a whopping $70 trillion—is likely to be three-four times bigger than that of e-commerce.
According to Leukert, SAP understands the enterprise segment well because it serves 25 industries and 350,000 customers globally, and its systems touch more than 75% of global business transactions. He said if organizations want to win in the digital age, they need to leverage their data and turn it into new, previously unforeseen business opportunities. “To differentiate from your competition, you have to combine software and algorithms with data that resides in your systems,” he said.
Insisting that SAP “believes in the value of open source and open ecosystems”, Leukart predicted that application programming interfaces will be “the primary mechanism to connect data with services” in two years. He also underscored the role that digital skills play in laying the foundation for innovation in any business. “Successful digital transformation requires massive skilling of your digital workforce. At SAP, we have taken continuous learning as a kind of DNA for us,” he said. In this context, Leukart pointed out that the company began contributing to the government’s “Digital India” vision “even before the actual initiative was formally announced”.
Leukart shared with the audience how SAP is learning to build professional skills not only in its own products but in other technology trends as well, so that learning becomes “an integral part” of digital transformation.
“The digital transformation exercise for us doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all approach. Every function, every process is affected and we at SAP have developed a digital framework in order to support a conversation with our customers,” said Leukert. The idea, he added, was to deliver “digital value in a completely new way of engaging” with the customer.
Compiled by Isha Trivedi, Bidya Sapam and Sahib Sharma.