Building Tomorrow’s Best-Run Business
SAP’s S/4HANA solution has been around now for a while. You would have heard the importance of in-memory computing, the ease-of-use of the new Fiori interface, the reduction of data footprint through the removal of aggregates and the push towards cloud computing.
The question though that many of our customers have asked us is: What is the bigger picture? Or – in other words – how does SAP S/4HANA help me to run my business better?
SAP has published a document that tries to answer this question clearly and concisely. We thought it would be worthwhile to summarize some of those points to help shed some light on this question.
In a nutshell, SAP S/4HANA helps companies in 3 areas:
One of the big problems we always see is that after the implementation of a complex ERP solution the quality of data has improved, but real-time visibility, dashboards, analytics still are not available. One of the main reasons is the sheer quantity of data, the processing of which is very power-intensive. So, business data warehouses were built to free up processing power from the ERP system and to crunch data in a separate environment. This, however, means that real-time data is not available. It also means that interfaces have to be built and maintained over time, which adds additional complexity to the overall IT landscape.
With SAP S/4HANA, real-time business intelligence is possible because data is stored in an in-memory database. Dashboard, KPI’s, reports etc. are available in real-time without performance impact on operations.
In addition, through the integration of CRM solutions such as Sales and Service Cloud (or even Qualtrics), information can be gained throughout the entire sales process, and not only from back-end ERP processes.
Augmenting operational data (past sales records) with customer experience data (current and planned sales opportunities, as well as customer sentiment) allows companies to gain valuable insight into their customer behaviour, and thus better anticipate buying trends.
Every company is different and has different pain points they try to overcome. However, there are big similarities in customers within the same industry. SAP has been working with market leaders in their industry for over 40 years and developed industry-specific solutions to support the required functionality for 25 industries, across numerous sectors, including energy and natural resources, financial services, consumer industries, professional services, public services, and discrete industries.
The objective to help a company to become a best-run business can be broken down into 3 steps (or project implementation phases):
I. Use SAP’s industry best-practice building blocks to build a foundation.
You really don’t need to start from scratch, and with many companies having deployed SAP solution in a similar industry, SAP has the building blocks in place to kick-start your journey towards a best-run business. Industry-specific functionality is built-in for those 25 key industries SAP actively supports. And with SAP’s leading development centres as well as industry-specific centres of expertise supported by customers that are market leaders in their areas, continuous efforts are made to develop more in-depth functional requirements for those industries.
II. Leverage 3rd party extension to build further
SAP may not cover all requirements for every single industry there is. There will still be a need to 3rd party products required to be integrated to further automate industry-specific business processes. Using open API’s and cloud extensions, this is possible and allows you to create end-to-end business processes integration all required 3rd party extensions to support business differentiation.
III. Combine manufacturing and SCM automation for Industry 4.0
Take advantage of sensors providing data via WIFI or 4G to feedback information for real-time decisions into SAP S/4HANA. SAP S/4HANA is built natively to deliver data-driven decision support using live machine data in the context of business information and intelligent handling of exceptions. So, you can connect real-time information delivered via sensors in trucks and logistic vehicles, or in machines. That will be beneficial for production order execution, back to your SAP system to control and monitor your supply chain processes. This helps you to further automate manufacturing and move towards greater personalization and customization at scale.
“Integration” is the one word SAP has been known for decades. SAP built the first integrated ERP solution in 1972. Since then, SAP evolved into a company integration end-to-end business processes in a seamless fashion across enterprises. Initially, integration meant the integration of individual departments within a company. Internal integrations allowed supply-chain related transactions to immediately update related financial transactions.
If you are feeling nostalgic – here is SAP in the 80’s and 90’s
With SAP providing solutions beyond core ERP, such as CRM, HR, Field Service Management or many others, a conscientious effort has been made to provide an integration platform. Hence, business processes are connected across various software solutions. Those extensions of SAP connections across various lines of business helped SAP to cement leadership for business software. Also, to allow companies to utilize best in class solutions for departmental specific requirements, for example:
- Integration SAP S/4HANA finance backend and SAP Concur expense management solutions
Enable organizations to dramatically increase visibility into their finance functions and accelerate cash cycles.
- Integration SAP Service Cloud and SAP S/4HANA
The impact of operations of field service technicians is immediately seen for both supply chain management and finance. That resulted in faster invoicing and better cash collection.
Through the use of SAP Cloud Platform, not only SAP native applications but also 3rd party products can be integrated to SAP S/4HANA. Third-party products are integrated into SAP S/4HANA as the corporate back-end, enabling more efficiency of operations across the board.
In addition to the three big pillars in SAP’s strategy towards creating a Best-Run Business – Intelligence, Industry, and Integration:
SAP is also committed to improving companies operations in the areas of sustainability, governance and compliance. SAP makes it possible by using a combination of the latest technologies like blockchain for traceability and proof of origin. Moreover, SAP utilizes trusted functionality such as document traceability, recall handling, ability to manage segregation of duty.