By leveraging cutting-edge digital technology, organisations can gain dramatic competitive advantage, says SAP's Hannes Liebe.

By leveraging cutting-edge digital technology, organisations can gain dramatic competitive advantage, says SAP's Hannes Liebe.

The IT industry is at a tipping point right now, and that tipping point is driven by something that none of us anticipated. If you think about where technology was in the past six years you will agree that it has advanced dramatically. On the one side, technological advancement comes with a bit of uncertainty. On the other side, it brings infinite opportunities.

This was according to Hannes Liebe, general manager of SAP S/4 HANNA EMEA and MEE, speaking at the IT Web/SAP Digital Core Executive Forum held in Johannesburg recently. Liebe explained there is significant acceleration in how technology is changing our lives, and consequently it is also changing the way we do business.

The five major IOT elements that we see changing our lives and the way we will do business in future, he explained, are: hyper-connectivity, supercomputing, cloud, cyber security and a smarter world.

"If companies are not aware of these elements it will affect the future of their business and they will not be relevant going forward," he warned.


The ability to have Internet access anywhere, anytime, presents endless business opportunities, noted Liebe.

"Most of us have two or three devices and in future we will have up to five different devices each.

Being hyper-connected means we're always online. The ability to have a device that is connected to other devices is changing the way we live while creating infinite opportunities for businesses," he explained.


Supercomputing is changing how artificial intelligence technologies are working their way into our everyday lives. What was known to be for the geeks some years ago is now accessible to anyone through supercomputing, said Liebe.

"Almost everyone has access to unlimited computing power. The smartphones we carry are likely to have more computing power than the two supercomputers at the Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology. This means we have quicker and more affordable access to computing power. The cost of memory has also decreased, thus making computing power more accessible," he continued.

Cloud computing

Cloud, noted Liebe, does not only provide us with many choices on how we can deploy business infrastructure, but it's also about changing the way we consume software going forward.

"Cloud presents an affordable way to gain access to world-class software. The way businesses consume cloud makes it a commodity, as the various ways in which we utilise it changes the way we consume and use different business apps," he went on to say.

Smarter world

In future billions, if not trillions, of sensors will populate everywhere we go, whether we are in the car, in a building, in a public area, there will be sensors deployed which produce data pieces.

"These data pieces will be able to predict and analyse data to provide more information about our cars, buildings and environment. The world of IOT will increase and everything will become smarter. Your car will be able to tell you if it may have mechanical problems in future, through these sensors," he pointed out.

Cyber security

Cyber security will be the number one topic of the future for everyone, because we are all dealing with data so we're all exposed to the risks of cyber crime, Liebe elaborated.

"Crime has moved from the physical world to the cyber world. We are consistently sharing data, through daily activity such as using our phones, credit cards, apps etc. Crime will continue to increase and cyber security will be one of the most talked about topics in future. If organisations are not addressing these IT security issues, they will not be relevant to their customers in future," he explained.

By leveraging cutting-edge digital technology, added Liebe, organisations can gain dramatic competitive advantage in today's economy as they are able to redefine business models and change the way business processes are run.

"Digital transformation is not only about putting a survival strategy in place, but also about increasing revenue. If we are not leveraging on the opportunities brought about by these five elements, customers will not get any value, and businesses will not be relevant. Digital technology will bring about blurring industry lines and the best run businesses are those that are using technology which enables quicker business processes," he concluded.