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While reflecting how S/4 HANA helps companies implementing a bimodal IT as defined by Gartner, I remembered that a similar concept had been around 10 years ago by Geoffrey A. Moore.

I found one respective graphics in a 2005 SAP NetWeaver presentation and overlaid both concepts:

Geoffrey Moore.gif

It is not a perfect match but in my opinion might help to understand how S/4 HANA is more likely to succeed enabling a bimodal IT than NetWeaver was.

Mode 1 is traditional, emphasizing scale and control.


Consolidate:

  • For NetWeaver there has been the Enterprise Service Workplace / ESOA Documentation (user needed to access) that at the time listed enterprise SOAP services that SAP planned to deliver when so that enterprise architects could determine when own developed innovative web services could be replaced with standard ones. This has been relatively technical and therefore not always straight forward applicable to existing business challenges.
  • For S/4 HANA there is a SAP S/4 HANA product roadmap that outlines what functionality SAP plan to deliver when to eventually standardize innovative functionality that had been invented individually before. In comparison to the Enterprise Service Workplace / ESOA Documentation this is more process oriented and therefore easier to apply to existing business challenges.


Outtask/Insource:

  • With NetWeaver, there has been the choice for enterprise architects between outtasking commodity web services and intasking mission critical web services. However this has only partially been helping in simplifying and therefore better controlling and scaling system landscapes.
  • There are two S/4 HANA editions. On premise (for own deployment or hosting) with the full S/4 HANA and in the Cloud with a limited scope with respective levels of outtasking/insourcing or scale and control.


Retire:

  • With functionality broken down into web services, with NetWeaver it has been possible to retire individual web services that were not needed any longer rather than complete solutions.
  • With S/4 HANA, eventually certain specialized solutions could be retired if their scope had become standard functionality.


Mode 2 is exploratory, emphasizing innovation and speed.


Invent:

  • With the open SOAP standard for web services it has been possible to include innovative web services that do not run on the NetWeaver platform into solutions that do.
  • With S/4 HANA comes the XS engine for innovative new solutions that had not been though of before. These still run on the same HANA platform and can therefore access all existing information to recombine them in a completely new ways that enable disruptively new business models.

Scale:

  • Eventually, once innovative web services became mission critical, with NetWeaver it has been possible to re-implement them in a more scalable way on the NetWeaver platform without having to change their usage.
  • S/4 HANA can be combined with Intelligent Business Operations platforms like Operational Process Intelligence, Event Stream Processing or Process Orchestration to mature and scale previously invented solutions ready to become mission critical for large parts of an organization and much faster to adopt.


Compose:

  • With NetWeaver, for enterprise architects it has been possible to re-combine standard web services in innovative new ways, thereby realizing innovation with re-development.
  • When out of the box S/4 HANA functionality is missing critical functionality it is sometimes sufficient to extend or re-compose it leveraging the HANA Cloud Platform extensibility capabilities rather than completely redeveloping from scratch.

To summarize:

  1. I think a bimodal IT hits the nail strait on the head.
  2. The challenges a bimodal IT solves have been around for a while and are therefore well understood.
  3. NetWeaver has been an early approach to solve those challenges on a web service level that has not always been straight forward to apply to existing business challenges.
  4. With in-memory technology, various deployment options and cloud extensibility S/4 HANA has the potential to really deliver a bimodal IT.
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