By Lillian Serobatse, Head of Channel for Africa at SAP Africa
Businesses are facing some tough questions, and the way they respond to these questions will largely determine their success. How do I fund and drive innovation within the business while still maintaining existing revenue and profit drivers? How do I gain improved insights from my data to help me react more effectively to new opportunities? How do I get closer to my customers and deliver positive experiences at every touch point? Answering these questions is not a matter of better utilising existing business processes: it requires an end-to-end transformation of their IT and business landscape.
The concept of the Intelligent Enterprise has emerged as a blueprint for organisations that want to achieve breakthrough outcomes by leveraging intelligent technologies. It combines a suite of applications with a digital platform integrated to a range of intelligent technologies to enable organisations to make sense of growing volumes of data, radically increase productivity and innovate at speed and scale.
Encouragingly, across Africa a growing ecosystem of innovative partners who are building IP on cloud platforms are reshaping how organisations on the continent conduct business by equipping them with the building blocks needed to become Intelligent Enterprises.
DNA of ideal technology partners
The on-going technological disruption has also transformed companies’ expectations of their technology partners. The new currency in technology partnership is lifetime value: how much value a partner can provide to an organisation on an on-going basis over long periods of time. The complexity and constant change of the modern business environment requires organisations to continuously adapt to new dynamics. Technology partners can no longer just sell products or solutions: organisations need to ensure they can extract the maximum amount of value from every technology investment while enjoying the support and insight of knowledgeable partners who can help them navigate growing complexity.
The way businesses make decisions over their IT procurement processes has also shifted: companies typically only start engaging potential partners and vendors when they are 70% through their internal decision-making processes. This is forcing channel partners to rethink their business models by reskilling staff, refocusing the company’s vision, and re-engineering back-office and customer-facing processes to prioritise the customer experience.
Within this dynamic, a new type of partner organisation is emerging. These partners develop extensive industry-specific expertise, take deep-dives into specific customer pain points and opportunities, and partner with larger technology vendors to co-develop innovative packaged solutions. This enables them to solidify their value proposition for highly-specific audiences, which results in an overall positive experience for the end-customer.
Big technology companies are coming to the party to ensure their partners have the support and access to technology they need to develop innovative new solutions. SAP recently announced that it is providing free access to its Cloud Platform to partner organisations. By opening up the powerful platform to partners, the company aims to accelerate the development of innovative new solutions that incorporate some of the exciting emerging technologies such as IoT, robotic process automation, machine learning, predictive analytics and AI.
Africa offers immense opportunity to companies that can leverage technology to deliver innovative solutions that solve real business problems, enhances the customer experience and enables organisations to meet modern business challenges with agility. McKinsey predicts that business spending on the continent will grow by 3.3% annually to 2025, with total consumption in the region hitting $4-trillion that same year. Technology partners that can transform their engagement models, leverage next-generation intelligent technologies and display a laser focus on generating lifetime value will play a critical role as the continent enters a new era of growth and prosperity.