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Learning from Leaders

How Small and Midsize Enterprises Run Live with SAP

by Steve Graham | SAPinsider, Volume 17, Issue 4

October 10, 2016

In a business environment that rewards agility and innovation, small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) have a compelling opportunity to grow. To grow successfully, however, SMEs need to undergo a digital transformation built around the concept of “running live” and enabled by technologies that allow all parts of the business to harness real-time information. Read on to learn five guiding principles that can help SMEs succeed in the digital economy and to see examples of how SMEs are using SAP technology with the help of partners to overcome common business problems. 

Nimble. Innovative. Tech-savvy. When thinking about the characteristics of small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), these are some of the words that may spring to mind, evoking images of companies poised to become the “next big thing.” 

SMEs, of course, have their challenges as they look to grow. A company in growth mode usually grapples with a collection of technology workarounds that wind up creating silos of information. Nobody plans for this; it just happens. To grow successfully — and to be nimble, innovative, and tech-savvy — SMEs need to undergo a digital transformation built around the concept of “running live” and enabled by technologies that allow all parts of the business to harness real-time information across the organization. A business can’t provide a compelling customer experience if its customer service system relies on email trails, and it certainly can’t make real-time decisions based on information stored in disparate spreadsheets or legacy systems awaiting an update.

SAP and its partners help SMEs around the globe run live. Here, we look at five core truths revealed by customers that use SAP technology to overcome common business challenges.    

1. Big Data Isn’t Just for Big Companies

Baby boomers rejoice — you no longer need to stand in line with punch cards to have the IT department run your report. In the past, SMEs trying to keep up with the technological advantages of their larger competitors faced significant budget challenges, but the cloud, the declining price of memory, and software advancements are creating opportunities for SMEs to build robust businesses with data at their heart.   

Here’s an example: Meteo Protect, a 20-employee French start-up, offers clients a way to analyze the relationship between business activity and the weather, coupled with a platform to price and underwrite fully customized index-based weather insurance. With this approach, the company can aggregate decades of climate history and weather-related data, analyze risk and price, and underwrite a policy in real time. Within a second, the company can analyze more than 80 billion quality-controlled weather data observations to determine risk and provide customers with the most cost-effective coverage.

Another example is the Hungary-based Medistance, a small start-up that seeks to prove the value of creating a holistic view of patients to improve healthcare practices. Working with SAP partner Hungimpex, the company uses clinically validated medical devices with machine-to-machine (M2M) technology set up in scalable fleets to collect massive amounts of data that is managed, stored, and analyzed in the cloud. People can measure and transmit their personal health data from the comfort of their homes, while healthcare providers and family members can share data and interactively make changes that are suggested by preset threshold alarms.1    

2. Innovate with the Future in Mind

The bells and whistles are great, but the real value of innovation comes from helping your company grow and adeptly handle future uncertainty, cut costs, expose inefficiencies, and guide you down a path to opportunity.   

One SAP customer using innovative technology that can support future needs is Find Your Gap. Employing sensor technology, Find Your Gap helps frustrated drivers find that always-elusive parking spot. The company processes data from millions of sensors in real time and manages customer relations across various online channels — which means the company always has a direct connection to its customers, with room for future growth.

Another example is David Leadbetter Golf. With the return of golf to the Olympics after a century-long absence, 2016 marked an opportunity for David Leadbetter Golf to reach, educate, and train more golfers. To reach golfers globally, the company needed to communicate more efficiently with franchisees, learn about customer needs, and more effectively manage inventory.2 With the help of SAP partner Vision33, the company was able to consolidate information and glean insights into inventory management, data, and ecommerce functionality, enabling a whole new way to reach and service customers and pave the way for future growth.

Preparing for the workforce of the future is also critical. Working with SAP partner Artis, the Australian Professional Standards Councils migrated its business management to the cloud while ensuring it met strict compliance, security, and privacy standards. The move positioned the organization to better align with its remote workforce across Australia and provide a consumer-grade experience, improve productivity, and cut costs. By moving to a cloud solution, The Councils better enabled its workforce, which can be fully productive anywhere, anytime, on any device — a necessity for today’s, and tomorrow’s, employees.

Companies that can harness their data to drive efficiency and learn about their business and customers every day have a real advantage.

3. Learn Something New About Your Business Every Day

Collecting data is pretty easy, but making that data work for you is much more difficult. Companies that can harness their data to drive efficiency and learn about their business and customers every day have a real advantage.

Memebox is one example of a customer that is able to use such insights to improve business operations and support continued expansion. After experiencing rapid growth for its beauty products business in its domestic Korean market, Memebox set its sights on global expansion and turned to SAP software. The move provided the company with the insights it needed to continue its growth trajectory with improved inventory accuracy, reduced delivery lead time, increased sales productivity, and shorter closing periods. 

The Chicken Farmers of Ontario (Canada) is another example of a company applying insight from its data to meet business needs — in this case, to address changing consumer demands. The organization initiated a project with SAP partner CONTAX Inc. to automate its entire value chain. It provides members with a digital platform that enables better traceability from hatchery to table and offers greater food quality assurance. And the organization offers several programs that enable farmers to better target the evolving tastes and preferences of Ontario consumers, including various ethnocultural communities and artisanal preferences.  

4. Harness the Value of Building Community

While video stores long ago shuttered their doors, the loyalty card programs they introduced launched a trend that has enjoyed massive growth. Today, technology is helping leading-edge companies create and maintain a sense of community among their valued customers.    

Sports Basement, a San Francisco Bay area sporting goods retailer, is all about building community. But this is an increasingly challenging task when the average store is 65,000 square feet with 25,000 stock items, and the company has a stated goal to open a new store every six months. Working with SAP partner Savantis Group, the company recently launched a mobile app that allows customers to see, in real time, the price of a product at Sports Basement compared to other online retailers. Showing customers they can trust the company to have the lowest price provides the right environment to build a strong community. 

Another powerful tool for cultivating customer loyalty is word-of-mouth, and EcoReco, a maker of battery-powered scooters, estimates that 50%-70% of its new business comes from customers interacting with curious bystanders. To leverage these in-the-moment interactions, the company uses SAP technology to create live customer experiences, which range from purchasing (through various online and dealer channels) to customer service (where the company can manage inquiries from multiple social media channels through a single interface).

With access to real-time information and the flexibility to deploy and use the technology as needed, small and midsize enterprises are learning what it means to run live.

5. Technology Can Dramatically Improve People’s Lives

Technology can be powerful. It can not only improve efficiency and provide live insights, it can also improve people’s lives, and companies are using this power to have a positive impact.

For example, nonprofit Edesia Global Nutrition manufactures and distributes ready-to-use food products to help feed malnourished children in 46 countries worldwide. So far, the company has served more than three million children throughout Africa, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. SAP and partner Softengine provided the technology for the company to run live — with all business operations and data under one umbrella, allowing the different arms of the business to stay in constant contact.

Dons Solidaires is another company that is harnessing technology to make a positive impact. More than 8.6 million people live below the poverty line in France, yet €630 million of non-food goods are destroyed in that country each year. Dons Solidaires was created in 2004 to ensure those everyday goods reach people in need rather than go to waste. Since 2010, SAP has provided financial and technology support to Dons Solidaires, working with SAP partner Coresystems to help improve logistical processes and optimize resource management. As a result of real-time stock management, more goods are delivered to more charities — on average, two to four weeks faster than before — all on the same budget.   

The Ingredients to Run Live

Large enterprises have used SAP systems to meet business needs for decades, and now more than ever, SMEs are able to do the same. With access to real-time information and the flexibility to deploy and use the technology as needed, these businesses are learning what it means to run live. To read more about the ingenuity and creativity of SAP customers in their efforts to run live, visit  

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Steve Graham
Steve Graham

Steve Graham ( is Vice President of Global Partner Operations — Marketing and Communications, at SAP. Over the course of his marketing and industry analyst career, he has published research and delivered presentations on topics including technology ecosystems, partner-to-partner networks, shifting technology industry business models, and intellectual property trends in the software industry.

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