SAP: Sustainability comes to the forefront
In the last of four articles, we zone in on the importance of sustainability.
Sustainability will be an increasingly important focus for organisations worldwide over the coming years as they seek to satisfy consumer demand and comply with regulations, while still meeting their individual goals. 71% of respondents to SAP’s survey outlined that their organisations have a plan to decrease carbon emissions, while 86% believed that a sustainable supply chain is a competitive advantage and makes them stand apart.
Leaders showcase the importance of these priorities by being willing to sacrifice profits in the short-term to meet their goals. Three-quarters of Leaders confirmed that they are willing to do so and this inclination to give up impressive financial metrics is vital as they make way for other companies on their sustainability journeys.
As a Supply Chain Leader, this means experimenting to find innovative solutions and leading the charge in transitioning to sustainable manufacturing and sourcing, even if those solutions in the short-term come at the expense of profitability. A large proportion of Leaders are already addressing sustainability issues in some of their products across manufacturing, engineering and delivery with 69% confirming they have introduced sustainable practices on a wide scale across their supply chains in these areas.
According to SAP’s analysis, sustainability was found to be the most challenging area for improvement for Supply Chain Leaders. They highlighted time to implementation (59%) and customer demand for speed and convenience (49%) as top obstacles to achieving sustainability. Additionally, they are increasingly more likely than others to say that designing sustainable products and sourcing sustainable materials has grown even more challenging over the past three years.
While all companies face stiff headwinds when it comes to ensuring sustainability throughout their supply chains, it’s important to keep an eye on customer-centricity and insights from real-time data that could simplify the task. In addition, the use of intelligent technologies can help firms meet their sustainability goals and reach their targets.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”