Technology-powered opportunities in a time of crisis
By Steve Tzikakis, SAP President EMEA South
In January this year, I was standing on a stage with Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of the legendary rock band, Iron Maiden, at SAP’s regional kick-off meeting in Barcelona. We shared our dreams for 2020 and talked about turning customers into fans.
We could never have guessed that three months later, the world would turn on its head. Almost simultaneously, we saw the outbreak of a global pandemic coupled with the collapse of the oil price that has shaken the world to its core. We’ve have been accustomed to things like social distancing, panic buying and widespread lockdowns; scenes that you expect only in a Hollywood blockbuster.
While we are all grappling with a very different world right now, in time business and consumer confidence will return, bolstering transformation and ultimately driving growth. Many people are referring to the perfect storm; I see huge potential related to the outcomes of disruption. A force majeure like COVID-19 can be every bit as transformative as a financial crisis or other world events that have had global significance through the ages. Enterprises are rethinking their business models, their supply chains and changing their approaches to security, business continuity, and remote work. Governments are rallying their resources to get insights into the effects of the crisis and to get on top of the catastrophe.
There’s never been a better opportunity to help our customers deliver unique insights, and ensure agility, control and the ability to execute – not just now, but also post-crisis. People will need to work, and agile, transformative businesses will flourish. Companies that effectively navigate disruptions often succeed because they invest in their core customer segments early and anticipate behaviours.
So how can a company like SAP become part of the global solution to the pandemic? For a start, we’re offering a slew of free technology tools and platforms to customers (and anyone else) to help them not only deal with pandemic-related issues but anticipate what sorts of opportunities the crisis will open up.
We’re helping companies redesign their supply chains, and find new sources of supply when existing supply chains are disrupted. We’re opening access to the SAP Ariba Discovery network, so any buyer can post their immediate sourcing needs, and any supplier can respond to show they can deliver. It’s free to post, free to respond. Using this network, one SAP customer that is building a new hospital in the US was able to find a supplier with 500 hospital beds in less than 30 minutes.
We’re helping managers check in with their employees. The world went virtual overnight, and any company that hopes to continue operating anywhere near normal levels will need to make sure their workers are okay, safe and healthy - and this doesn’t end in the first week they’re home. We’ve seen a spike in the usage of our free Remote Work Pulse from Qualtrics, which enables companies to detect the sentiment of their employees since the crisis began. The mental health of their employees has to be on the mind of companies.
In Italy, our presales team developed a coronavirus dashboard and offered it for free to customers, partners, our communities. The dashboard allows users to analyse the contagion spread in depth, compared to that one included in the Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard.
We’re supporting the next generation of professionals and users with our best-in-class digital learning, by offering students and subject-matter experts safe and healthy learning environments to continue their education virtually. We’re offering them free access to select learning journeys for students at one of the 3 800 member universities of the SAP University Alliances programme, online courses allowing young learners to explore technology, as well as the massive open online courses (MOOCs) available on the open SAP platform.
Many businesses are taking advantage of the ‘locate’ feature within SAP Concur software to track employees stranded overseas. While business travel has abruptly ended, other business expenses tracked by SAP Concur offerings confirm that activity in China is picking up a little.
Together with EY and Qualtrics, we’re helping governments around the world that are struggling to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes capturing and monitoring community concerns, tracking and reporting on the progression of the virus, providing accurate information on transmission and cure, directing people to the right resources for help, and communicating effectively with their citizens in a time of lockdown.
Our vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives has never been more important than in this current moment. We remain focused on our people, our customers, and our communities. Together, we will persevere.