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SAP Discusses the Future of Business, Part 1

October 31, 2013


In an interesting slideshow entitled “99 Facts on the Future of Business,” the folks at SAP paint a picture of the future to which businesses should pay attention. The company introduces the presentation by explaining: “Business Innovation is the key ingredient for growth in the future of business. Changes in technology, new customer expectations, a re-defined contract between employees and employers, strained resources, and business and social networks are requiring businesses to become insight-driven businesses. In this presentation, we have gathered 99 facts that represent the changes taking place in the world today. Each fact represents a key insight and suggests where we need to focus and change to become viable, sustainable and growing future businesses.” I’ve placed these facts into thirteen categories to help paint a more coherent picture of the future as seen by the analysts at SAP. In this post, I’ll include the first five categories in this post. They are: Big Data; Business Leadership; Customer Service/Experience; and Education. The remaining eight categories will be provided in the next post.


Big Data


From the facts below, it is clear that most of the data created in the years ahead will be unstructured.


  • “90% of all internet traffic in 207 will be video.” (Source: Cisco)
  • “The amount of data stored is doubling every 18 months.” (Source: IDC, Aberdeen)
  • “The half-life of a piece of content shared on top social networks Twitter and Facebook is 3 hours. (Half-life is the amount of time it takes content to reach 50% of the clicks it will ever receive). (Source: Bit.ly)
  • “Content on the Internet tripled between 2010 and 2013.” (Source: GoGlobe & Qmee)
  • “There will be a 50-fold aggregate growth in smartphone gigabyte traffic between 2011 and 2016, with China emerging with a 10% share of this market.” (Source: Mintel)
  • “A study by the UN found that nearly 200,000 text messages were sent every second in 2010, totaling up to 6.1 trillion texts.” (Source: Mintel)
  • “GPS provider TomTom adds five billion measurement points every day.” (Source: OECD Exploring Data-Driven Innovation as a New Source of Growth, 2013)
  • “In 2012, TomTom navigation hardware and software had more than 5,000 trillion data points in its databases, describing time, location, direction and speed of travel of individual anonymized users.” (Source: OECD Exploring Data-Driven Innovation as a New Source of Growth, 2013)
  • “YouTube uploads are growing exponentially from 40 hours per 60 seconds in 2011, to 100 hours in 2013.” (Source: Google)
  • “Netflx and YouTube are responsible for 45% of all Internet traffic in the US.” (Source: VPNStudy 2013)


Business Leadership


Good business leadership remains essential. It’s clear from the following facts, however, that business leaders are about as trusted by the public as U.S. Congressional Representatives.


  • “Globally, more people trust regular employees to tell the truth than CEOs (50% vs. 42%) (Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2013)
  • “While 50% of Americans trust businesses to do what is right, only 15% trust business leaders to tell the truth.” (Source: Edelman Trust Barometer, 2013)
  • “Only 34% of workers say, ‘Employees [in their company] have a high level of trust in management and the organization.” (Source: Interaction Associates)
  • “87% of global consumers believe business should place at least equal emphasis on social interests as business interests, and ‘purpose’ has increased as a purchase trigger by 26% since 2008.” (Source: Edelmand Trust Barometer, 2013)


Customer Service/Experience


This is a topic on which I’ve written a few posts (see, for example, To Survive the Current Economic Malaise Retailers Should Try a Little Customer Service; Improving Customer Service; and Do Your Customers Really Matter?).


  • “It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to keep a current one.” (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
  • “More than 70% of customers surveyed believe small businesses understand their customer better than large, know their business/products better than large companies, provide a more personal customer service experience than large companies and are more concerned about my needs than larger companies.” (Source: American Express Global Customer Service Barometer, 2012)
  • “It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience.” (Source: HelpScout)
  • “60% of US consumers agree, ‘Technology has made us feel more connected’ while 40% agree, ‘Technology has us feel more isolated from each other.'” (Source: Yankelovich MONITOR)
  • “7o% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels he or she is being treated.” (Source: McKinsey & Company)
  • “$83 billion is estimated to be lost by U.S. businesses every year due to poor customer service.” (Source: Genesys)
  • “Businesses lose $289 each year for every customer who leaves due to poor service.” (Source: Genesys)
  • “On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.” (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
  • “In 2012, only 37% of US companies earned a customer experience index rating of ‘excellent’ or ‘good.'” (Source: Forrester)
  • “67% of US organizations say that improving customer experiences is one of their top three priorities.” (Source: Forrester)
  • “80% of big companies described themselves as delivering ‘superior’ service, but only 8% of customers say they’ve experienced ‘superior’ service from these companies.” (Source: The New Yorker)
  • “In the past year, two in five consumers or more in most markets indicate that they have not completed a transaction or made an intended purchase because of poor customer service.” (Source: American Express Global Customer Service Barometer)


Digital Path to Purchase


Digital path to purchase is still overwhelmingly a B2B phenomenon, but with mobile technology being used by more and more consumers (especially in emerging markets), this path to purchase will be become increasingly important in the years ahead.


  • “Peer recommendations drive sales. 70% of consumers said they were influenced by a friend or family member’s online recommendation, beating out in-person recommendation ( 61%), online articles (59%), ads (49%), or someone they follow online but don’t know (32%).” (Source: Brian Solis’ Future of Business, 2013)”By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile-connected devices than there are people on earth.” (Source: Cisco 2013)
  • “There are 1.5 Billion smartphone users vs. 5 Billion mobile users worldwide.” (Source: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends, 2013)
  • “The projected share of world population with smartphones in 2014 is 24%.” (Source: Advertising Age Mobile Fact Pack, 2013)
  • “January to June 2013, global demand for smartphones rose by 66% compared to the same period in the previous year, while the market for conventional mobile phones shrank by 25%.” (Source: GfK Roper WW, 2013)
  • “Tablet growth is more rapid than smartphones. (3x iPhone growth)” (Source: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends, 2013)
  • “85 percent — share of smartphones as a proportion of all mobile devices is also the highest in China.” (Source: Advertising Age Mobile Fact Pack, 2013)
  • “US-based mobile phone operating systems maintain 88% of all global mobile phone sales (up from 5% 6 years ago).” (Source: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends, 2013)
  • “Smartphone adoption worldwide is creating more and more demand for mobile bandwidth, but it won’t be a mobile broadband-majority world until 2016.” (Source Mintel)
  • “Facebook has more than 1 Billion network users.” (Source: Facebook)
  • “Typical mobile users check their phone 150 times per day. (Source: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends, 2013)
  • “Mobile traffic as a percent of internet traffic is growing 1.5x per year (now still only 15%).” (Source: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends, 2013)
  • “The average US adult spends 141 minutes a day using mobile devices.” (Source: Advertising Age Mobile Fact Pack, 2013)
  • “Newspapers have lost $40 Billion in advertising revenue since 2000.” (Source: Newspaper Association of America)
  • “The average number of sources of content consumed by a shopper in a purchase doubled from 2010 to 2011 going from 5 to 10 pieces of content consumed.” (Source: Google)
  • “Social media sharing has doubled between 2011 and 2013, with Snapchat taking a large after only 1 year.” (Source: KPCB)
  • “The number of pieces of mail delivered by the US postal service dropped from 250 Million to 50 Million in 2012.” (Source: USPS)
  • “80% of the top Global Internet sites are US-based while 81% of the Global Internet population is non-US.” (Source: Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends, 2013)
  • “The average subscription rate of mobile internet access in developed countries as a whole rose 56.6% in June 2012 up from just 23.1% in 2009.” (Source: OECD Communications Outlook, 2013)
  • “Firms are much less likely to do e-sales than e-purchases — the percentage of businesses making sales online is lower than 20% in most countries.” (Source: OECD “Electronic and Mobile Commerce,” 2013)
  • “E-commerce is dominated by business-to-business (B2B) sales — roughly 90% of the value of e-commerce transactions is from B2B and this has been nearly constant over the last ten years.” (Source: OECD “Electronic and Mobile Commerce,” 2013)
  • “Asia-Pacific is expected to become the largest B2C e-commerce marketplace by 2013 (representing a 34% of total sales share against 31.1% in 2012)” (Source: EMarketer)
  • “13% of the economic value added by the business sector in 2010 could be attributed to Internet-related and e-commerce activity.” (Source: OECD “Electronic and Mobile Commerce,” 2013)




If you want to know why the future of emerging markets is bright, its because their children are receiving better educations; but, as the last fact indicates, there is still room to improve.


  • “Asian students account for 53% of all students studying abroad worldwide — the largest numbers of international students are from China, India and Korea.” (Source: Pew Research Center, 2013)
  • “In 1990, girls’ primary school enrollment rate in developing countries was only 86 percent of boys’. By 2011 it was 97 percent.” (Source: World Bank, 2013)
  • “More than 620 million young people are neither working nor studying.” (Source: World Bank Jobs Report, 2012)


These facts, as well as those discussed in the final segment of this series, must be interpreted by each business as they relate to their particular industry. Not every fact will mean the same thing to every economic sector. Taken as whole, however, these facts point to the importance of emerging markets, mobile technology, urban areas, and the generation known as Millennials.

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