In this virtual meetup entitled “Intelligent Transformation – Becoming More Resilient and Sustainable Enterprises”, moderator Kathleen Schroeter ably guided two high-profile business technology leaders Eva Zauke, SVP, Global Head of SAP Enterprise Adoption, SAP SE and Dr Feiyu Xu, SVP, Global Head of Artificial Intelligence, SAP SE to share some fascinating insights into this highly topical subject.
Introduced by Elke Manjet of SAP – who referred to SAP’s long-standing partnership with Global Female Leaders, describing it as a great platform for exchange and a valuable network – this discussion encompassed some vital issues. As intelligent transformation lies at the core of SAP’s strategy, who better to turn to for enlightenment than these two experienced and well-informed SAP strategists at the vanguard of supporting enterprises in their digital transformation and, as Elke said, “training that resilience muscle” to help them cope with the challenges of running their businesses today. The questions posed by moderator Kathleen Schroeter were carefully designed to draw out the specialist knowledge of each of our thought leaderes. Here are a few of those questions.
What’s your favorite technology and why?
For Eva this opener had a quick answer: 3D printing! She enthused about how the technology can deal with any material – including recently a house built mostly using 3D printing – and that it facilitates innovative business models, citing a huge logistics service provider now offering their customers 3D printing services which she found “pretty inspiring”. In terms of reduction of our carbon footprint, this seemed quite logical, added Kathleen.
Fei shared her excitement about AI not only being able to simulate human behaviours, but also to look and move like humans (but don’t fall in love with them, she warns!). Furthermore, AI can extend our cognition in many cases – such as recognizing plants via a mobile apps leveraging computer vision (sub-field of AI) . Although AI has no self-awareness, intention or emotion, it can transport emotions: Fei drew attention to the Beethoven X AI project that moderator Kathleen had mentioned in her introduction – as a great example!
What changes are companies faced with in technologies and markets?
Eva acknowledged that companies were facing these changes before the pandemic, but up to 77% of CEOs they questioned attested that these changes were hugely accelerated as a result of COVID-19. Supply-chain problems were highlighted as well as electronic documentation which is forecast to increase by a factor of 500% by 2025. The push for sustainability ranked high on the list, and, interestingly, the human factor and training arose frequently, as it was generally agreed that enablement was crucial in managing transformation. An SAP study on the impact of enablement entitled “How much learning is enough?” revealed that among the more than 920 SAP client companies surveyed, across multiple SAP products – finance, procurement, human resources etc. – well-trained employees were shown to be 15% more satisfied and an astonishing 50% more productive.
Fei pointed out that we’re now in the second wave of digitalisation, and AI and big data are important factors in helping companies to become intelligent by running processes – including manufacturing, finance, CRM and human resources – in a resilient, sustainable and efficient way. Intelligent transformation will aid cost-saving, efficiency and competitiveness across marketing and branding too, all essential to the future of companies.
How can companies gain practical value from the digital transformation?
Eva pointed out how important it is for companies to adopt technologies. Once they do, use cases are created – a prerequisite for achieving value and desired business outcomes. Three primary dimensions highlighted were resilience – enormously complex for global concerns who must operate successfully not only globally but also within each of the countries they’re active in – as well as performance across the “nuts and bolts” of an organization (payment processes, automation etc.) and of course sustainability, including how an organisation measures its carbon footprint impact.
Regarding the adoption of AI-infused solutions enabling business process optimization and automation, Fei also touched upon the ethical concerns the industry must grapple with worldwide, and the strict governance guidelines adhered to by SAP . Among the SAP principles governing AI development she listed human-centric design, driven by SAP values, enabling business beyond bias and upholding transparency and integrity. These and other factors must be at the root of all AI-enabled enterprise solutions.
Takeaways from this virtual meetup
AI must comply with ethical principles, be transparent and easily integrated into enterprise software solutions.
To grow, you have to move out of your comfort zone: growth and comfort cannot coexist!
We must share data, knowledge and business solutions: the future world is a shared world!
This is only a small sample of the thought-provoking information shared by these two thought leaders– so be sure not to miss our next Virtual Meetup!