The end of the year is a good time to think about what lies ahead. I believe there are some business, technical and social developments that will affect organizations in every industry.
If you have a moment, grab a cup of coffee and read about eight industry trends that I hope are here to stay.
Everything as a service
The manufacture and sale of products has been the predominant business model in multiple industries for many decades. In contrast, the provision of services used to be associated with only a few industries, such as telecommunications. Those days are gone. From sports equipment and broadcast services in B2C to machines and software in B2B, there is hardly a product or service that customers don’t expect to get on a subscription basis. In short, the way products and services are consumed, ordered and paid for has changed, and I’m sure this trend will continue to transform revenue streams, product design and customer engagement across industries.
The trends are connected, as is everything as a service and the future of mobility. It used to be that urban infrastructure was built for cars moving between suburbs and city centers. With more and more people moving into cities, this is no longer feasible. However, I have no doubt that new digital concepts and technologies will ensure convenient, safe and sustainable mobility in the future. We can already see a transition towards integrated mobility solutions that start with an individual mobility element, such as a car or a bicycle, and integrate with mass mobility solutions, which people pay for on a pay-as-you-go basis.
New customer paths
When it comes to customer experience, industry lines are blurring and business models are blending. Both consumers and business customers expect a cohesive experience in any brand interaction they may have. Customers also demand personalized experiences that are available anywhere, anytime. Sustainability is another driving force. Customer expectations will continue to rise, and I’m excited to see companies deliver an experience that goes beyond the sales process and keeps customers coming back.
Health for life
Being healthy is essential. Considerable medical progress has been made in recent decades, with technology contributing significantly to this. Beyond the healthcare space, digital devices that collect and compile data related to health and habits are increasingly being used in lifestyle areas. Devices such as smart watches, smart scales and sensor-packed exercise machines create a massive pool of health and activity data. While this trend creates new possibilities for healthcare and life sciences to advance diagnosis and treatment, I also see implications for the consumer products, retail and insurance industries.
The future of capital and risk
Governed by national and international regulations, banks and insurers play a key role in the functioning of the global financial system. In recent years, fintech and insurtech innovators have changed the way capital is raised and allocated, risks are transferred and payments are handled in our global economy. Today, products and services in banking and insurance can be 100% digital, so I expect this market to continue to be subject to rapid change.
Halting climate change and its effects on our planet is one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century and the transition to a sustainable economy is one of the fundamental needs of our time. Emission-free energy is one of the pillars of sustainability. Many solutions for an energy transition are already here. What matters now is implementing them at scale, and I believe all industries will be affected. Reinventing the global energy system is a huge undertaking that will involve all nations, all industries and all people.
Another fundamental pillar of sustainability is the circular economy. For too long, our global economy has been linear and single-use: companies take resources, produce things, and users throw them away. As a result, humans not only consume more resources than our planet can regenerate, but we also accumulate waste. The transition to a circular economy protects our environment and opens up new business opportunities. I am convinced that the rewards of circular business models will far outweigh the investments companies need to make today.
Resilient supply networks
In today’s globally connected economy, supply chain disruptions can have profound consequences. These include shortages and delays of materials and products that lead to empty shelves and higher prices. To build resilience, companies need transparency in their supply chains to enable smart planning. This requires close collaboration and data sharing between trading partners in an open but secure digital network. Creating this real-time transparency in today’s complex supply chains is a big effort. But I believe it is the best, if not the only, way to enable companies to respond to and anticipate supply and demand disruptions.
These are the trends that I see shaping the business world, the world around us and SAP’s product portfolio, and will continue to do so across all industries in 2023 and beyond.
Thomas Saueressig is a member of the Executive Board of SAP SE.