Five key cloud opportunities for the next decade

After years of repeated shocks and disruption, there is still one constant when we talk to customers about their cloud goals – the need for business transformation. Customers are looking to the cloud to make them more agile, resilient, leaner, and to make better use of their data.

This alone is not a new concept, but like everything in business, the value in cloud services has only continued to evolve. Today there are new opportunities across a spectrum of business imperatives – and innovation in the cloud has become a constant process driven by the business instead of just IT. 

So, what are some of the big trends we’re seeing for companies in the cloud today? Here are five key concepts to focus on. 


Supply chains are transforming into intelligent industry networks

Supply chain resilience has become one of the most important discussions in business today. As we’ve seen from the rampant disruption and uncertainty over the past two years, resilience can be tested by uncontrollable forces at any point in time. 

To make supply chains more proactive and agile for the future, companies need to first become more open and work with their traditional partners and new ones. This shift is really from the traditional concept of a supply chain toward a new era of intelligent supply and demand ecosystems. 

SAP supports this today through the SAP Business Network, which enables businesses to be more proactive and resilient by becoming part of an open, powerful networked economy.


Bringing a B2C experience to B2B relationships is a leadership opportunity

Everyone knows what a good customer experience looks like from a consumer perspective. You can find what you need easily. You can order and pay for it seamlessly. You can contact service and support as needed. The way we interact online and buy products as consumers is usually very efficient. 

In this light, the B2B experience has been lagging behind. There’s a lot of room for innovation and improvement to make it much easier and more intuitive for businesses to interact with each other. 

The concept of customer experience, but in a B2B context, is becoming increasingly relevant. 

As businesses think about processes to improve or ways to become a leader in their industry, a winning strategy will consist of enabling all of their suppliers, buyers, employees and other stakeholders to interact with them through an experience that feels like a B2C experience. 

Making it easier to interact with companies across the ecosystem benefits the entire value chain.


Sustainability is a business imperative

Sustainability is another reality that companies must pursue, not just because we have a responsibility for future generations, but also because market forces can shift rapidly for a host of reasons. Consumers, investors and employees are driving demand for sustainable practices. 

Most companies understand this, but they don’t know where to begin. This is largely because you can’t manage what you can’t measure. 


Sustainability is another reality that companies must pursue, not just because we have a responsibility for future generations, but also because market forces can shift rapidly for a host of reasons.


In the cloud, sustainability can be integrated to become part of your business. Companies should view sustainability the same way they view their finances. The data can be reported in the same way. The processes involved can be automated in much the same way. 

Embedding these elements as part of steering the business is an imperative that is only going to become more important in the years to come.


Modular solutions can enable continuous innovation

Another benefit of cloud services that we’re seeing more customers take advantage of is the speed and availability of innovation, driven by an increasingly modular approach. As modular solutions become more plug and play, the whole perception of what a cloud initiative can be is also going to change. 

This paradigm makes it much easier to update, change workflows or add new features and functionality without a lengthy deployment. It doesn’t need to be a wide-scale business transformation. The organisation can focus on one line of business, one business unit, one process or even one workflow at a time. 

A modular approach also greatly reduces the risk of making a change. Everybody wants to transform, but if it involves a lengthy process of discovery, request for proposals, integration and deployment, there may not be a business case to disrupt operations that are working adequately today. After all, the processes are running. The product is being delivered. Customers are satisfied. 

When transformation is iterative, there’s really no end to what a company can do. Spin up a new process and A/B test it against the current one. Add a new partner, new region or new business model. Add a module that improves a current workflow. Everything is on the table, and it often doesn’t require the IT department.

Looking to the future, this kind of business innovation is becoming an operational reality that never truly ends. That’s why we’re seeing a much more modular approach to implementing transformation in pieces as business needs and opportunities arise. 


For constant business innovation, companies need a true partner in the cloud

We’re still seeing many companies approach cloud initiatives through the lens of ‘table stakes’ benefits. They want to reduce operating expenses by migrating processes and workloads. But this is really just one piece of the equation. 

Moving to the cloud should never be solely an IT project. In today’s environment, it’s not enough to find a SaaS vendor and achieve annual cost savings. What’s important is to lead with business value. 

To do this, more and more companies are working hand-in-hand with a cloud partner across every step and every process. Having a business partner in the cloud can help ensure that immediate goals are realised, issues and opportunities are continually raised, and constant improvements to solutions and workflows are facilitated as new needs arise. 

SAP has been leading on all of these new and emerging opportunities in the cloud and is there to meet customers at any step. From transformation leaders in an industry or companies that are just getting started, SAP is ready to partner with you to help you define the right path for your business and help you become a true industry leader.