How banks can better meet the needs of SMEs

Efma feature

22 November 2016

Pierre Delivet, financial services industry director at SAP France, outlines the challenges facing SMEs and explains what needs to be done to pave the way to a successful future.

What are the biggest challenge facings SMEs operating in today’s challenging landscape?

SMEs are digitally hungry. Banks have successfully delivered a steady stream of new digital services to their vast retail bases. But, they haven’t done the same for their SME clients. And it won’t be long before market pressures will compel banks to do so. The competition for SMEs’ business is coming in part from technology companies, whose innovations in the areas of financing or enhanced self-service are giving SMEs new options.

SMEs expect more digital services in credit and financing, and their banking experience to match their consumer experience (think personalisation, multi-channel, social interaction, seamless integration, and real time responses). SMEs need trusted advisor to speed up their cash flow, gain access to new markets, and opportunities.

How are you helping banks and SMEs to meet these challenges?

Banks need agility to better respond to the challenges of this market segment. The challenge is to bring this agility on top of their existing legacy limitation. Because, their information system does not make it possible to exploit in an optimal way the information relevant to their SME at the right time, and with a consistent cross channel experience.

SAP provides a digital platform that combines transaction processing and analytics using the SAP HANA platform. It is an open and agile platform and can help banks to take advantage of direct interaction with customers, reimagine personalised new product and services, which are leveraging real time, predictive information, and all breakthrough technologies.

SAP enables banks to extend their value chain as banks manage not only the financial matters of their customers, but also provide related non-financial services. The bank becomes the life coach of their SME customer:

- Help SME customers (who do not have solutions, or time, or expertise) make better use of their customer data.
- Leverage own data to provide more insight, advanced analytics (benchmarks, recommendations, predictive data etc).
- Offer as a service an online platform of financial management and operational for small and medium companies.
- Business networks will enable banks to be even more integrated with their customers’ value chains
Collaborate with partners and fintech

How important is digital transformation today?

We at SAP think that industries that are consumer driven such as banking are already in the eye of the digital storm. Digitally transformative technologies are already a reality, and are constantly improving. The question is: “When and how will the banking industry implement new disruptive business applications that can rapidly transform their value chains?”

We believe that SAP, with all its software assets, is the best company to help the banking industry to move to this new digital world.

What are the ingredients of a successful SME app?

At the heart of a digital business is the agility and flexibility to adjust course at any time. This involves two key concepts: simplification and innovation. Simplification is all about doing what we are already doing, but better, faster, and cheaper. Innovation is all about reimagining financial services business models and customer engagement by leveraging the technology trends

SAP sees five pillars of digitisation, and we also understand that continuously changing requirements pose big challenges for businesses. Reimagining business models, business processes, and work can help develop the innovative offering:

1. True customer engagement across all channels
2. Smarter and engaged workforce across all employees and contractors
3. Business network collaboration that accelerates growth and co-innovation
4. The internet of things and big data to drive real time customer engagement
5. Core business processes that connect channels, transactional banking, and analytics in real time to run faster, simpler, and in a more agile manner

What added value can HANA offer?  

In today’s fast-changing business landscape, IT needs to be both agile and flexible in responding to changing business requirements, and cost efficient to remain within ever-tighter budgets. In addition, secure access to business process data is no longer nice to have but a must.

SAP’s HANA cloud platform is an open platform-as-a-service providing unique in-memory database and business application services. It enables users to quickly build, extend, and integrate modern applications simply.

As a result, SMEs will get higher levels of personalisation in more cost-efficient ways. The banks will be able to develop true multichannel offerings, so that SME customers can access the same services on a smartphone, tablet, or PC that they can get by walking into a branch office.

How do you believe the industry will evolve in the years to come?

In our increasingly digital world, I think that in the next three to five years, the most successful banks will be those that are both digitally empowered and have established their position by joining a powerful network of providers, customers, and partners – facilitating business networks to help SMEs speed up their cash flow, gain access to wider supply chains, or provide consultancy in specialist areas, for example.

Banks have to become part of their customer’s daily lives, providing financing, insurance policies, payments, and other related services. They must anticipate needs and become the trusted advisors for their SME customers’ growth. This will drive customer loyalty and ultimately more business. And more than everything else they have to not forget that they are managing billions of customer data representing a huge potential to develop.

Visit the SME AppsBank portal and discover worldwide SME Business apps. Submit your best-in-class SME apps now on (submission is free).

Keywords : Digital/Mobile channels , SME/Corporate

Geography : International