Inspired for the Future

How Small and Midsize Enterprises Are Growing with SAP Technology

For business leaders, inspiration can come from many sources, such as a lifelong passion, a determination to find a better way of doing things, or a desire to create a better world. Inspiration — combined with vision, creativity, and tenacity — can help small and midsize enterprises (SMEs) chart a course toward becoming the next big thing in business.    

Of course, inspiration alone is not enough. Technology has an increasing role to play in a company’s growth potential. The right technology decision, made early in the life of a company, can help pave the way for future success. Cloud technology is key among these technology decisions, due largely to its ability to operationalize costs and provide scalability without staffing overhead. Real-time analytics are another potential game-changer, enabling leaders to make important business decisions based on evidence rather than intuition alone. Together, these technology decisions can help nascent companies create new and innovative business models that disrupt an industry or line of business, or even instigate social change.

SAP and its partners are actively working to help SMEs around the world grow and reach their full potential. Let’s look at a few examples of how SAP technology enabled these companies to turn their inspiration into reality.

Follow Your Passion

For many business leaders, passion is critical to success because success is much more than delivering a better product. It’s about providing a better customer experience, and doing it profitably.

Consider outdoor apparel and gear manufacturer, Snow Peak. In 1958, accomplished mountaineer and outdoor-enthusiast Yukio Yamai wasn’t happy with the climbing gear available on the market, so he decided to develop his own. The company he created has now grown into a multinational enterprise with an online presence and a network of more than 100 retail stores.

Understanding customer needs has always been core to the company’s success. The organization recently jettisoned its outdated technology to centralize, unify, and control fragmented information about its customers, inventory, and all other aspects of the business, and make this data available to executives, salespeople, and other business users in real time. At the same time, Snow Peak optimized inventory levels by coupling supply and demand data and keeping it current. The company can now proactively identify shortages before they occur, increasing sales across the board and providing a better customer experience through guided preferences and other online shopping benefits.

Another example of passion-driven business is Devialet. In 2007, engineer Pierre-Emmanuel Calmel, entrepreneur Quentin Sannié, and designer Emmanuel Nardin entered the crowded consumer audio marketplace with an innovative sound system that boasted improved sound quality over its predecessors. Devialet products have captured the attention of audiophiles and artists alike, including Sting, Beyoncé, and its newest company shareholder, Jay Z.

Launched with only five employees, the company now has a staff of more than 500 people, with 60 Devialet stores in development internationally and distribution deals with more than 300 high-end resellers, including Apple Store. From the outset, the company decided to run its business in the cloud so it could know what was happening in real time — from monitoring the supply chain to distribution, sales, and customer service. Not only is Devialet able to get new products to market within days of release, it can also guarantee delivery anywhere in the world within 48 hours — whether the sale is in store, through a distributor, or online.   

And then there’s YETI. Growing up, the founders always had a passion for the outdoors, hunting, and fishing. Unfortunately, the coolers they used on their adventures weren’t up to the challenge and would often come back damaged. In 2006, the founders launched a company around the idea of building a cooler that would stand up to the demands of daily use, as opposed to most of those on the market that were designed with the occasional weekend camper in mind. YETI is now one of the fastest growing outdoor companies with revenues that tripled in 2016 to $468.9 million.

YETI grew so quickly that its original technology could not keep up — in fact, it was inhibiting the company’s growth. Working with SAP, YETI discovered a cloud platform that was advanced and well suited for global expansion, and could accommodate changes resulting from its rapid growth.

Analyze the Numbers

Analytics were once the domain of back-office analysts. Usually conducted offline and after the fact, leaders could turn to their trusted advisors to request reports and listen to their advice once the dust had settled. Today, analytics drive decisions in real time, and big data solutions allow companies to analyze large volumes of data at lightning speed.   

Glu Mobile is a growing company that exemplifies this trend. The company is a developer and publisher of free-to-play games for smartphone and tablet devices, with original and branded games provided on a technology platform available to its global audience. For Glu Mobile, providing an engaging and immersive user experience is critical. Using SAP Cloud Platform Big Data Services, Glu Mobile can now analyze 2 billion user logs per day, processing up to 30,000 user events per second to customize the experience to the individual user level. Better engagement means better business, and by using big data, the company is at the forefront of creating the most engaging user experience to drive revenue growth. 

Similarly, Korea’s KB Wiper Systems (KBWS) needed to better leverage its customer data to support business growth and demands. Working with SAP, KBWS implemented a self-service reporting framework and is now able to monitor and analyze business data in real time. Performance indicators are recorded and analyzed centrally across the business, allowing for full visibility. KBWS has experienced seamless day-to-day operations and expects to enhance new business processes such as real-time shop floor production monitoring.        

Innovate Business Models

For some SMEs, the quest to succeed demands inspired ideas for innovative business models. More than just a new product or offering, their visions can change an industry and can sometimes even change people’s lives. 

For example, not-for-profit European Vaccine Initiative (EVI) supports global efforts to develop effective vaccines that are more powerful than any drug. In the poorest parts of the world, horrific diseases kill millions of people each year. But developing vaccines is a high-risk, low-profit proposition for pharmaceutical companies, and less wealthy countries cannot afford costly vaccines created by private sector companies alone.

EVI bridges the gap between a vaccine concept and clinical studies. It carefully manages the earliest, riskiest stages and relies on organizations in the private and public sector for further development and testing. The organization’s innovative approach to managing donations, finances, and clinical trials translates into expanded capacity and scale to address diseases in the poorest regions of Africa and Asia, and combat emerging infectious diseases like Zika and Ebola. It’s a vital mission that requires sound financial management.

To optimize the efficiency and transparency of its financial processes, EVI turned to the cloud to run the business aspects of its organization. Today, all EVI project leaders can instantly access the real-time financial data they need — anytime, anyplace — along with powerful analysis and reporting. This accessibility provides big benefits: The finance team can deliver unique reports that comply with country-specific requirements. Project leaders gain the financial insights needed to stay on budget. Global partners can collaborate more effectively with management. And because financial management is now completely transparent, EVI can increase funding to fight diseases by building even greater public confidence in its integrity.

Another example of innovative thinking is Katerra. The company is setting out to completely revolutionize the construction industry, with a lofty goal of using vertical integration to implement projects in half the time and at half the cost. Katerra employs technology innovations to manage material sourcing, production, supply chain, and onsite construction. The company has even created an Internet of Things (IoT) network to track onsite staff. From this, Katerra can analyze projects in real time, which improves workforce productivity and strengthens business models. This increased coordination of labor and materials will help simplify the industry, which in turn will help bring more affordable housing to more people.  

And in South Korea, Woowa Brothers’ Baedal Minjok (Delivery Nation) service is taking the food-delivery sector by storm. Using a mobile app, customers can order takeout from over 150,000 restaurants with just a few taps. Working with SAP partner LG CNS, Woowa Brothers created a scalable technology infrastructure that can automatically handle more than 6.3 million transactions, allowing restaurant owners to receive funds, manage daily balance closure systems, and view cash balances in real time. This technology, combined with an International Stevie Award-winning ad campaign, has been a boon to its restaurant customers. Per the company website, its app has more than 20 million downloads and handles an average monthly volume of more than 520,000 orders.

Get Inspired to Run Live

Cloud-based technology and new innovations are helping SMEs thrive in the market and innovate their business models. Wherever they are on their road to success, SAP solutions can provide the support and strategies to help these organizations realize their vision. To read more about inspired small and midsize businesses that use SAP technology to help their companies run live, visit

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