RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • As companies manage the global COVID-19 crisis, they must innovate to outmaneuver uncertainty.
  • Accenture’s 2020 Technology Vision for SAP Solutions sets out the four key trends that will influence doing business in the post-pandemic world.
  • From enhancing digital experience to managing constant change and innovation, these trends will set the agenda for near-term business growth.
  • The report explains how SAP solutions and technologies support and accelerate these trends, helping businesses rebuild and rebound for the future.


Innovate to outmaneuver uncertainty

COVID-19 has created humanitarian and business challenges on a scale most companies have never experienced. As they look to outmaneuver the global uncertainty created by the pandemic, their need for innovation is greater than ever.

Companies running SAP solutions are well positioned to manage the crisis and come through stronger on the other side. With SAP’s comprehensive solutions portfolio, combined with Accenture’s industry, business function and technology expertise, companies can act quickly, both to maintain operations right now and focus on their resilience and growth needs for the future.

That means ensuring workers are safe and business operations keep running in the short term. It also means navigating the uncertainties ahead and getting ready to rebuild the business, innovate and grow in the post-pandemic world.



Four technology trends for the years ahead

To outmaneuver uncertainty and innovate for the future, it’s critical to understand how technologies are changing, and how customer expectations are evolving alongside. It’s also vital to recognize how these changes have been massively accelerated by the pandemic.

With that clarity, and with SAP solutions and technologies at the foundation of the enterprise, leaders can update their business, operating and technology models, engage their workforces, realign their business purpose with customer values, and focus on the innovation needed to come through the crisis stronger.

Building on Accenture’s 2020 Technology Vision and Post-coronavirus technology trends reports, the Technology Vision for SAP Solutions 2020 identifies four key technology trends that will impact business over the next four years—and explains how SAP solutions and technologies can help manage and accelerate change in the post-COVID world.

The I in experience

The pandemic is elevating the role and importance of digital experiences in people’s lives.

AI and me

AI is becoming even more important to enterprises in augmenting the workforce and making the business work smarter.

The dilemma of smart things

Smart and updateable products and services have huge potential. But constant change needs to be managed well.

Innovation DNA

In the post-pandemic era, comprehensive ongoing innovation will be a business imperative.

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By driving forward with digital transformation, SAP customers can open up new opportunities in the post-pandemic rebound.

The I in experience

Helping people choose their own adventure. When the entire world goes digital, personalized experience becomes the defining differentiator. More and more, this is about cooperation: collaborating with customers to create "cooperative experiences". It’s about seeing customers as individuals and allowing them to truly shape their own experiences.

SAP clients can understand customer needs, design experiences that work for them and engage on their terms to co-create value with Qualtrics and the SAP Customer Experience suite.

  • Understand my needs and design my experiences. Use Qualtrics to listen to customers in real time, understand their needs at every touchpoint, and co-create experiences through closed-loop feedback.
  • Engage on my terms. SAP Customer Data Cloud provides the core set of capabilities to enable trusting and cooperative relationships, including managing consent, giving individuals control over their information, and securing customer identity across multiple platforms.
  • Co-create value. SAP Customer Data Cloud helps organizations operationalize insights gained into customer needs, while SAP Commerce Cloud and SAP Intelligent Technologies help deliver contextual experiences.

AI and me

Reimagine the business through human and AI collaboration. There are many opportunities to enhance the business through human/AI collaboration. To do this, businesses need to master tools that unlock new and more intuitive interactions between people and machines. That includes natural language processing, explainable AI and extended reality (XR).

SAP customers can build on existing automation and chatbot initiatives, looking to predictive analytics, context-based AI and conversational AI in areas such as prediction, simulation and situation handling.

  • Conversational AI. SAP Conversational AI, which includes SAP CoPilot, allows companies to create conversational user interfaces for customers, employees and partners alike.
  • Context-based AI. Use SAP solutions to create more human-centered AI tools that understand and adapt to the user’s context and predict what they most likely need to do next.
  • The autonomous enterprise. Bring quality data and trained data science models together to enable faster, better and more confident decision making in every corner of the enterprise.

The dilemma of smart things

Overcome the "beta burden". COVID-19 is increasing the need for smart and updateable products and services, and especially those with high public health potential. As products shift to services and experiences, companies need greater agility and responsiveness to meet highly variable customer demand, making agility in product design and rapid adaptation of services more important than ever.

SAP customers can look to create deeper integration between SAP and other systems to understand and respond to customer needs in real time while ensuring transparency and trust.

  • Products as "beta burden". Manage constantly updated products with digital continuity, building an end-to-end architecture for the whole product lifecycle based on SAP and complementary solutions.
  • Products as services. Adapt to the new service-oriented business models by using solutions like SAP Intelligent Asset Management to monitor assets holistically and create predictive maintenance services, and SAP Entitlement Management to grant, enforce and administer customer access entitlements.
  • Fostering data trust. Build up your trust capital by ensuring first-class customer data security and data exposure through modular services on SAP Cloud Platform.

Innovation DNA

Create an engine for continuous innovation. In the post-pandemic era, comprehensive ongoing innovation will remain a business imperative. Enterprises need to build an "innovation DNA", taking today’s fundamental technology building blocks—maturing digital technology, scientific advances, and emerging DARQ (distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum Computing) technologies—and building a culture and ecosystem that supports rapid innovation.

SAP customers should continue to focus on innovation at all levels, using a culture of experimentation to create great ideas and then put them into practice with scalable, measurable and relevant solutions to business problems.

  • Leveraging fundamental technology building blocks. Leverage the innovations and digital technologies in SAP’s solution stack, underpinned by SAP S/4HANA and integrated with other systems and applications through SAP Cloud Platform.
  • Creating a culture of innovation. Follow best-practice innovation governance rituals that range across the whole innovation cycle and tap into Accenture Venture’s network of startups.
  • Dedicated innovation spaces to explore the "next new". Accelerate innovation initiatives backed by Accenture’s innovation architecture, including a global network of Innovation Hubs.
The pandemic has accelerated change to a degree no one could have realistically predicted.

Technology matters more than ever

This is an unprecedented time. People are depending on digital technology more than ever. How quickly and how responsibly enterprises deploy that technology matters more than ever too.

The future is uncertain and fast-changing. The four trends set out in this paper provide a roadmap for navigating that uncertainty. To survive and thrive, organizations will need to innovate, invent, and redefine themselves for a new era.

Caspar Borggreve

Lead – SAP Business Group


Stéphane Martin

Managing Director


Surya Mukherjee

Research Lead – Europe Technology, Accenture

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