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Digital Transformation – The SAP User Community Perspective

Part three of a six-part weekly series

This week marks the half-way point of our blog series on Digital Transformation. The feedback has been awesome and the analytics show that we are talking about important things. Last week we did our best to define what Digital Transformation means. This week we focus our attention on the core questions whose answers, your answers, form the base of your digital business model.

Those in our user communities who are driving this transformation—who are taking advantage of every possible outcome that can be extracted from a digitized consumer, who are evolving corporate mindsets about the changes in the competitive environment, who have recognized the benefits of a hyper-connected global economy—are reaping the rewards. They are taking essential risks in order to move ahead of the pack and capture first-mover advantage.

Long-time ASUG member Under Armour is writing digital history. Its investments in MyFitnessPal and Endomondo demonstrates how seriously it sees the digitization of fitness. Imagine the synergies it can drive by connecting all this collected data with product development and e-commerce activities. Picture how much greater its customer satisfaction will be as its products last longer, wear better and provide performance superior to its competitors. Visualize how Under Armour’s customers will use this data to not only understand but improve their athletic performance. Under Armour clearly understands what is at stake and is moving early and purposefully to capture the benefits.

In our new digital reality, first-mover advantage is proving to be more essential than it has ever been. Those who can most effectively and efficiently reimagine their core business models will be the ones that set the pace for the rest of us to follow. You’ve likely heard the mantra that all business is digital business, and every business is in the business of software. This is a clear harbinger of change in the market: No matter what rate of change you aspire to, what’s clear is that change needs to be at the top of your list of strategic priorities.

Who’s Your Disruptor?

Thinking about change means looking for new opportunities as well as recognizing new threats, regardless of whether you are a farm equipment maker, a janitorial supply company, a clothing manufacturer, a wholesale supply distributor, a retailer, a chemical manufacturer, a software developer or any other business.

The upstarts that are willing to take risks, who see the world through a very different lens, are the ones that are your strategic threats. These new organizations that are coming to disrupt your business likely don’t have a large back-end infrastructure and are unencumbered by yesterday’s business processes. Your disruptors are likely very light, agile and free of the legacy technology and processes that are part of your daily business life. They are simply in pursuit of their dream of a different world. But you have one advantage they don’t have: Your legacy data can be a competitive differentiator. Your company’s history, its understanding of successes and failures, and its relationships with customers and partners gives you insight that no one else has. The question becomes: How do you quickly unlock this value, and if that can’t be done, get rid of the elements of your legacy that don’t contribute, so that they don’t become an anchor that weighs you down?

To out-disrupt your disruptors, you have to begin by thinking like them. Failing to do so will always leave you in a defensive position. Here are some thought starters:

Competitive Edge

  • What would someone with a fresh set of eyes see when they look for opportunities to rethink your industry?
  • Where will your disruptors come from?
  • How would you completely change the way revenue is generated?
  • What are the risks of doing nothing or just slightly more than nothing?
  • How do you ensure future disruptors disrupt others?


  • How do you open core systems to the new world of connected-sensors and real-time data flows?
  • What would a new generation of analytical tools, which can mine data about your business, industry and ecosystem look like?
  • How would your organization benefit from real-time applications that are available regardless of device or location?
  • How do you balance operating requirements with preparing for this new reality?
  • - How do you invest in the right talent and thinking to ensure you thrive in this new world?
  • How do you transform legacy technology investments into competitive differentiators that create new customer and partner relationships and value?


  • What would it take to engage the entire organization on this journey?
  • How do your peers, boss and board think about Digital Transformation? What insight can you provide?
  • How do you balance operating requirements with preparing for this new reality?
  • - How do you invest in the right talent and thinking to ensure your organization thrives in this new world?

Intellectual Property, Security and Privacy

  • How do you ensure that your organization’s data is protected and secure, and that your ideas and intellectual property aren’t vaporized along the journey?

These important questions should not be considered just by you, but also by your peers, your boss, your CEO and your partners across the organization. Write down your answers, share your thoughts with others, and incorporate their thoughts and ideas into the plan. We assure you the result will be insightful and will point the way forward on your journey ahead.

One of the great promises of an integrated and extended SAP ecosystem is the relative ease of preparing for this journey. While you might reflect on that last sentence with a wee bit of skepticism, this is undoubtedly true when compared alongside a fragmented technology portfolio. At its core, SAP is an integrated business technology platform that is designed to operate your business from end to end. The integrated SAP enterprise must be a key part of your Digital Transformation strategic advantage.

What is your perspective on Digital Transformation? We would like to hear your voice by participating in our Digital Transformation survey. We promise that it’s quick, relevant and digitally painless.

To learn more, join us for our upcoming webcast on April 20, 2016, Ready or Not, Digital Is Your Business - What SAP Customers Need to Know

Next up will be part four of six – The Challenges for Our SAP Ecosystem—and How to Respond.

Geoff Scott is the CEO of Americas’ SAP Users’ Group (ASUG).