The digital era is now evolving into the intelligence era, as digital transformation gives rise to the intelligent enterprise.

This is the word from Cathy Smith, MD of SAP Africa, who adds that this makes complexity more prevalent than ever.

By Kathy Gibson

“All the changes are happening at the same time – and this is what is making the intelligence era so fundamentally different,” she says.

“Customers are demanding excellent service that is personalised, absolutely specific to their needs. CEOs are concerned about how quickly they can put this in place, and how effectively they can do it.”

CEOs are also starting to worry about employee engagement, Smith says. “Companies are become so diverse. Today there are three or four generations in an organisation. How do you engage with them to get the best out of them, to provide the best customer service.

“Those challenges are fundamentally different to what CEOs have had to deal with before.”

SAP has a strategy for the intelligence enterprise that puts intelligent technologies like machine learning (ML), analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) and its Intelligent Suite, together with a digital platform, at the centre of the ecosystem.

She describes the Intelligent Platform as giving organisations the ability to make decisions based on information that is as close as possible to the truth.

Intelligent technology can engender a feeling of fear and uncertainty, Smith adds. “Many people are afraid of technology. But bots have to have human involvement to understand and design what they do.

“This is what is exciting about technology – it is becoming the catalyst for us, as humans, to evolve to the next level. We will become more creative, intuitive, caring and have higher purpose – and make the world a better place to live in.

“We need to embrace the technology so it doesn’t become an obstacle, but an enabler.

“What we need to do is think about that and make a choice: do I accept technology as an enabler and let it drive my development as a human being; or do I let it hold me back because I see it as a threat?”

SAP showcased its humanoid robot, Sophia, at the SAP Now event held in Sandton recently.

The lifelike robot was created by Hansen Robotics in Hong Kong to demonstrate the abilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and to learn from human interactions.