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Elon Musk has stated in a now famous tweet from October 2021 that Manufacturing will be Tesla’s long term competitive strength.  And in a Manufacturing website Tesla is using for employee recruitment, the website states that Tesla is “A New Kind of Factory: Unlike most other manufacturers, we iterate and improve across short, consecutive timeframes, keeping us at the forefront of innovation.”   Elon Musk and Tesla are building cars, yes, but they are really building a manufacturing platform that will bring innovation, agility and scalability to the manufacturing process that is unmatched in the industry.  This is Platform Thinking!


You may know SAP as a stodgy ERP application company, but I hope you won’t be surprised to know that we have been talking to our customers about what Platform Thinking is all about when it comes to applications in Finance, Supply Chain, Human Relations, Customer Relationship Management, Procurement and other application areas.  We’ve been asking our customers how they will continuously innovate and improve their application portfolio with Platform Thinking, and what they have shared with us can be summarized into three key insight areas when it comes to cloud based digital technology platform thinking…


First, customers are telling us that they expect cloud-based digital technology platforms to improve business processes and performance, while also offering the ability to quickly and easily scale up and down, as needed.  They are looking for vendor platform offerings that provide the flexibility of scaling data storage for transactions, analytics and planning when needed and scaling back that data when not required.  Also expected is the platform’s ability to easily interact with cloud application business processes for personalization, enrichment and tailoring of those application processes to meet individualized company needs and requirements, whether that be for professional developers and automators or the new rising class of citizen developers.  Further, customers tell us it is important for a technology platform to provide accelerated implementation times, without the need to go through the process of hardware and software ordering, waiting, installing, configuring and going live that accompany on-premises platforms.  Agility is king when it comes to cloud platforms!


A great example of an SAP customer using a digital platform to improve business processes is Schnellecke Logistics, who built a cloud-based digital control tower to put data in the hands of their employees that enables real-time decision making.  The new platform-powered dashboard eliminates 15-20 steps employees had to take to access necessary data, and reports that used to take 2+ hours to generate are now available online and immediately available.  The control tower has led to operational excellence across the board for the company, improved customer satisfaction and reduced customer complaints.


Second, our customers continue to inform us that cloud-based digital technology platforms most need to have world class data security and compliance; rock solid availability; and have elastic, pay-for-what-is- used pricing models.  Security and compliance is a major factor affecting every enterprise, and organizations are tasked with maintaining data compliance, keeping data secure and meeting the increasing demands of security and data regulations being implemented by governments and regulatory bodies across the world – even those who are changing regulations frequently.  Customers want cloud-based digital platforms that provide them with peace of mind that their data is secure and compliant.  With the global pandemic causing enterprises to support a much larger number of remote customers and workers, our customers are requiring applications and data to be available and accessible 24x7 to every part of the world.  Organizations are expecting redundant digital cloud platforms that provide constant availability to applications and data anytime, anywhere.   Finally, customers don’t want a one size fits all approach to cloud based digital platforms when it comes to commercial terms.  Yes, some customers prefer a cloud subscription model for financial planning purposes, but many customers want the flexibility of Pay Per Use platforms, whereby customers only pay for what they use, or they prepay for platform services and then “burn down” their prepay over time.  This provides flexibility and agility in their cloud consumption plans.


A great example of an SAP customer using a digital platform to leverage a secure, global, mobile application (even on fishing boats) is Royal Greenland, where they were able to empower fisherman to eliminate paper-based catch input and verify fishing licenses for specific fish species.  Further, the new mobile and digital platform-based apps require zero training for fishermen, so they can focus on sustainable fishing methods.  The digital apps they built are servicing 2,200+ fisherman and have converted 70,000+ POs from paper to digital.


Third, our customers continue to tell us that ease of integration of both applications and data is critical when they are looking to choose a cloud based digital platform.   Organizations are seeking to integrate all aspects and tasks across the business application portfolio using best practices and the utmost data security.  We found that many of our customers are interested in reducing costs and gaining accuracy by offloading manual and repeatable tasks to the platform.  Other customers are using digital platforms as more of a strategic weapon, integrating and optimizing both processes and data across their application portfolios for things like cross portfolio planning, the linking of demand chain to supply chain, and optimizing work force needs to meet manufacturing planning schedules.  The automation of tasks and integration of application data and processes via a digital platform are key criteria for customers who are looking for improved efficiency, delivering continuity across different aspects of the organization and enabling cross cloud vendor application integration.  Digital platforms also deliver cost effectiveness by way of reduced overhead in equipment and staffing, and more efficient business processes that work together for the organizations success.


A great example of an SAP customer using a digital platform to integrate applications for business agility is Toyota Australia, with their Lexus customer loyalty program.  They reduced the cost of integration by 50%, gained time to market 30% faster, and centralized their integration to one digital platform with SAP BTP.


SAP is delivering this cloud based digital platform for our customers in the form of SAP Business Technology Platform – that helps customer create personalized experiences that work with their applications, enables faster enrichment of application portfolios with business context and provides a secure, scalable and enterprise grade cloud platform.  That is Platform Delivery for Platform Thinking Enterprises.  For more information on how SAP can help your company with platform thinking, go to