What lies ahead in 2023: UK executives have their say on the outlook for Partners, Supply Chains & Sustainability


The past three years have witnessed extreme disruption, whether at the hands of a worldwide pandemic, a European war or a global recession. But despite these challenges, businesses have shown they can evolve, stay aligned to customer demands and deliver transformation at scale.

2023 promises to be no different, and business leaders from the channel, to ESG and supply chains are confident that this year will bring opportunities for growth and success.

But what will be this year’s big trends? What do organisations need to consider? Here’s what SAP leaders want you to know about what’s in store for 2023…

Celine Cazali, Chief Partner Officer: As we head into a new and difficult year ahead, it’ll be essential for partners to continue upskilling their practice, allowing customers to realise the benefits of new technologies whilst keeping their core stacks clean.

In 2023, success will not be about customisation and being unique, instead organisations will need to adopt industry best practice in order to retain their relevancy. The mantra needs to be adopt not adapt, so that businesses can increase agility and innovate to address their challenges. Together with partner communities we need to provide space where rapid, but effective, innovation can happen, helping customers realise the value of their investments and ensure these match industry expectations.

Simultaneously, the economic outlook will no doubt put pressure on the pursuit of talent acquisition. Our channel partners all experienced double digit growth in 2022, and they’ll all have different strategies in place to expand their organisations and remain competitive in an ever changing market. It’s likely that we’ll see even more consolidation as partners are acquired and others will look to add capabilities and capacity to their delivery practices. Attracting, retaining and upskilling talent will remain a priority for partner organisations throughout the course of the next twelve months.

Ellie Lamey, Head of Intelligent Spend and Business Networks: Supply chain disruptions have been at the top of everyone’s minds for two years now, and the challenges facing them show no sign of holding up in 2023.

Recent disruptions caused by the pandemic and war in Ukraine, as well as cyber security attacks, means organisations must have a high-level of risk resiliency within their supply chains.

As uncertainty remains certain, businesses need to be able to recover from crises efficiently, and rethink how they proactively manage their supply chains. Deciding whether investment goes into sourcing local manufacturing or ensuring an organisation has a higher level of reserve stocks is an ongoing and ever-changing choice. Similarly, visibility and utilising data analytics within supply chains will be essential so organisations can highlight where their supply chains are most efficient and uncover areas for improvement. Additionally, there will be an even greater focus on the impact of an organisation’s supply chains on their corporate social responsibility targets. Attention on sustainability will only increase, and no business is sustainable if its supply chain is lacking. Data analytics and utilising the mass of data businesses collect daily will be key to achieve this.

Stephen Jamieson, Global Head of Circular Economy Solutions: As we head into 2023, addressing the food system will become a top priority for governments, NGOs and businesses alike. While initiatives have been largely localised to date, increasing threats to global food security, coupled with ongoing efforts towards climate action and biodiversity, will drive the introduction of voluntary agreements worldwide, with a likelihood of increased regulatory-based intervention.

This presents a unique opportunity to accelerate a sustainable agricultural system, grounded in the adoption of regenerative food production techniques. The increase in biodiversity and localised production can not only protect against crop failure and improve global food security but also create a carbon sink and reduce emissions from transport. This should extend beyond production across the wider supply chain, where greater transparency around the manufacturing and transportation of supplies will be critical to engaging citizens and reducing the environmental impact of food production over the next few years.

One of the ways businesses will be able to communicate their sustainability credentials to those throughout the supply chain is through regulatory compliance. Over the course of the next twelve months, stricter legislation for sustainability reporting will come into force. While leaders have faced increasing pressure to disclose their environmental impact for some time, new regulations – including the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive – will now make this a necessity.

From 2024, businesses will have to disclose data around their overall impact on the environment, while initiatives such as the United Nations Plastics Treaty will soon offer a legal framework for tackling plastic pollution. It is therefore critical that leaders are prepared in advance – this starts with identifying gaps in reporting and integrating sustainability metrics into core business processes and objectives. This will future-proof operations against changing regulations, while also supporting the transition to more sustainable business models grounded in the circular economy.

2023 is the year for progress

There’s every opportunity for businesses to witness innovation and growth in 2023, despite the challenging operating environment created by economic uncertainty in 2022.

As SAP’s executives predict, there’ll be greater demand for new talent and a requirement to upskill to keep on top of emerging technologies. We’ll also see a total rethink on how to operate global supply chains effectively, and as part of this, renewed recognition of the power of locality. While ESG efforts will become ever-more critical, as will be a willingness to take accountability for climate change and curb environmental footprints.  No doubt, the current global economic landscape will have great influence on what businesses can achieve over the course of the next 12 months, but what is clear is that 2023 will be the year for transformation.