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Navigating the Seas of Business Reinvention

Company Progress Toward Digital Transformation

by China Martens | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 3

August 3, 2016

Digital transformation is a hot topic, with the urgency and importance of adopting a strategy for this change only growing. But what exactly is a digital transformation, and how do you go about it? Read on to learn how a number of SAP customers, both large and small and across multiple industries, are defining what it means to digitally transform a business, and how they are planning to approach this reinvention within their own organizations.

Digital transformation has been top of mind for SAP, its partner ecosystem, and technology industry observers such as ASUG for some time now. To keep up with the rapid pace of change, the urgency and importance of adopting a digital transformation strategy grows. For this reason, ASUG sought to tap the collective voice of its members on how they characterize digital transformation and their preparations to reinvent their businesses.

So, in the spirit of inquiry, we recently conducted our first-ever ASUG Research Change and Digital Transformation survey. This online survey received 788 responses from ASUG members in a variety of business and IT roles, representing a broad cross-section of long-time and recent SAP customers from companies large and small across multiple industries. Let’s take a look at some of the insights we uncovered.

Defining Digital Transformation

First, there is the matter of defining what digital transformation entails.1 Forty percent of respondents described digital transformation as a rethinking of an organization’s entire operations to create a modern, digital enterprise. About a quarter of respondents explained it as the refocusing of an organization’s resources to become a customer-centric omnichannel, while 18% of respondents defined it in terms of migrating business processes to cloud services to improve scalability and agility. Of the remaining respondents, 13% saw the phrase as a vague technology catch-all term.

The Digital Transformation Journey

With a working definition in place, we were eager to hear at what stage ASUG members consider their organization to be in reinventing their businesses. Forty-one percent of respondents are actively formulating a digital transformation strategy; conversely, 13% have yet to start thinking about the topic. Others range from those who have a digital transformation strategy but have not yet implemented (9%); to those who are less than one year into implementation (13%) or are between one to two years into implementation (13%); to those who are more than two years into implementing their digital transformation strategy.

But how exactly are SAP customers embarking on digital transformation? For 34% of respondents, the approach is across all business processes and departments. Thirteen percent are starting with sales and marketing, 12% with finance, 10% with supply chain, 8% with industry-specific business processes, and 5% with HR. The remaining 18% have not yet determined how to get started.

Scope of Transformation

Finally, we observed two major schools of thought on SAP customers’ planned scope for their digital transformation strategies. The first school of thought, held by 30% of respondents, consists of a series of pilot projects that will eventually span the entire company. The second is a company-wide strategy — or in other words, a complete, top-to-bottom reinvention approach — which is favored by 29% of respondents. A less common strategy is to take a single focus for digital transformation pilot projects — targeting one region, subsidiary, department, or product line. Still, 22% of respondents say they don’t have a digital transformation strategy in place at this time.


Digital transformation remains a hot topic, and results of the survey reveal that many companies are actively engaged in strategizing and planning their approach. While every company’s path to digital transformation will be unique, SAP customers can benefit from the experiences of their peers by creating a dialogue around what has and has not worked for them.2 For more details on the survey results, download “ASUG Research: What Do ASUG Members Think About Change and Digital Transformation in 2016?” at

1 To learn more about ASUG’s perspective on digital transformation, read “Digital Transformation: The SAP User Community Perspective” (2016; [back]

2 To hear more on what ASUG members are saying about digital transformation, check out the discussion board at [back]

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China Martens
China Martens

Head of ASUG Research

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