articleBY HT BRAND STUDIO |NOV 26, 2018

Successful mid-size companies are adapting to the new business environment by finding ways to bring their current operations into the digital age

Photo: iStock

For today’s companies, it is no longer enough to have a disruptive product or a great customer service. As world markets become more connected and customers get more options than ever before, businesses must be built from ground-up to rapidly adapt to changing customer needs and survive industry-shaking disruptions.

For mid-size businesses, such situations can affect the entire operating models, and can leave the founders, CEOs, and executives floundering for a quick fix. A common response, when faced with such dilemmas, is to try and emulate the business model of a successful rival or pursue a completely new path.

Yet, in most industries, disruptions can be sudden, and companies can’t just walk away from their existing business models. Also, in the process of meeting market challenges, one needs to manage headcount, production capabilities, and make sense of an ever-increasing amount of data. Over time, all of these issues can snowball into a big headache for those running the company.

To avoid these pitfalls of growth, one must first understand that the fundamental needs of a business evolve as it grows. New requirements may not be evident immediately. For example, spreadsheets and basic accounting practices may become insufficient as the customer base increases and their relationship with the company becomes more complex. Plus, rising employee numbers require more transparency, visibility, and real-time information that is seamless and based on a single version of the truth.

However, any mid-size business can not only weather these challenges, but also accelerate growth by finding ways to bring their current operations into the digital age. This means getting the basics right. As a business owner, you need to put in place mechanisms that will prepare the businesses’ technology stack to take on growth without resorting to a bandage approach.

Photo: iStock

How can a mid-size business begin digitizing their core operations?

Traditionally, due to their cost and complexity, end-to-end Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software made sense only for large companies. From building dedicated data centers to keeping tech teams on call, these platforms are costly to install and maintain.

However, with the advent of cloud enterprise solutions and Software as a Service (SaaS), it is infinitely easier to prepare a business that is easily scalable and agile. Software makers are now leasing their technology for a monthly fee, which has lowered the price point by a huge margin, which means even smaller companies can now use ERP software to leverage the power of big data the way their larger counterparts do.

Additionally, cloud services have unlocked the real value of using ERP capabilities. Cloud-based ERP systems not only manage the business and automate many back office functions, but can also be used to uncover insights into the business and to take on new opportunities.

For a mid-size business, an ERP system like SAP’s S/4HANA Cloud will give you complete control over every aspect of your operations—from book keeping to billing and hiring. It will also capture all critical business information for immediate access and company-wide use. And unlike accounting packages and spreadsheets, it is an integrated suite which keeps a central database so as to avoid discrepancies. Plus, as it is run completely on the cloud, you can access it on your smartphone, enabling real-time monitoring and inputs.

Also, S/4HANA Cloud solutions are custom-built for the industry it is going to be used for. This means that the outputs and visual interface will show the parameters that are important to you; and, if there are changes in the industry standards, SAP will update the software to fulfill the new requirements.

Why is digitizing core operations vital for growth?

Most businesses that don’t have a central ERP system in place use a web of spreadsheets and manual processes. These are not only messy and time-consuming, but also reduce clarity on the profitable parts of the company.

For any mid-size businesses, sudden operational issues can bring the whole company to a costly halt. Localized infrastructure and lack of coordination between various systems are some of the main causes for such breakdowns. By integrating smart ERP systems into the back office, front office, sales, and marketing operations, a business can be run in a highly responsive way.

Photo: iStock

More importantly, with the data collected from daily operations, ERP systems with built-in deep learning and artificial intelligence abilities will help you reveal some trends in your past performance that have otherwise gone unnoticed. By analyzing your past performance and trying to understand the factors that influenced the best or worst results, you can discover the key to growth.

By leveraging the flexibility of cloud ERP, the company’s business model and processes can be scaled up to fit in a larger enterprise platform; and this can take place without any disruption in information sharing or customer engagement.

Request a personal demo of intelligent, cloud-based ERP software from SAP.

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