brian walker

It’s time to embrace change, or risk being disrupted

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The concept of “digital” is no longer just a set of sales and marketing channels, or a way of recording interactions with customers. It’s fundamental to your value proposition. It’s how you engage with customers—so said Brian Walker, Chief Strategy Office for SAP Hybris.

“We need to embed digital into the very fabric of the services that we design, build and deliver,” Walker said, during the second leg of SAP Hybris LIVE: Digital Summit 2017 from Munich. “Investing in technology is no longer a simple cost to business – it’s vital to set you apart from the competition.”

It’s time for brands to embed digital into the very products that they sell. Companies are thinking about how to design experiences that engage the customer from the moment they wake up in the morning to the minute their heads hit the pillow, and every moment in between.

And let’s not forget about disruptive new business models. The subscription model is taking hold, from shoes to razor blades. Our relationship with distribution channels and manufacturers will change, as we start to expect that the tools we use to get through life – coffee makers, refrigerators, cars – take care of themselves so we don’t have to.

Products will become services. BMW and Ford don’t think of themselves as a car maker – it’s a provider of transport services. Some people feel owning a car is antiquated – instead just want to have access to a car, through a service like Lyft or Uber.

“Software will be at the heart of this digital transformation,” Walker said.

As disruption starts to occur, on average businesses in those industries see an average drop of 11 percent of topline revenue, and 4 percent in profitability. Companies that aggressively embrace disruption will emerge as the winners.

Those that wait will be disrupted. It’s an existential threat to business.

A culture change is required. Digital evangelists within companies attempting convince management of benefits of disruption, and the fundamental change that needs to happen within a business.

The challenges are significant. Companies will require agility, will need to be low risk and low cost— and they will need to fail and adapt faster. Not every innovation will work, because it is hard to predict how the end customer will react.

At the same time, Walker said, brands need to launch quickly and have the courage to pull innovations out of the marketplace when they don’t work. Businesses will need the ability to run at multiple speeds and switch gears quickly. From ERP to simplifying the front office to services in the cloud to manage your business interactions with your customers, the time to act is now.

Don’t miss out on all the great panels, insights and thought leadership from SAP Hybris LIVE: Digital Summit 2017! Binge-watch the replays now!

Amy Hatch
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March 8, 2017
Amy Hatch

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