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Digital Boardrooms in the Spotlight: The “How” of Implementation

By Fred Isbell, senior director and head of Thought Leadership – Digital Business Services Marketing, SAP

As discussed in “Déjà Vu: Digital Boardrooms in the Spotlight,” the concept of the digital boardroom is a key component of digital transformation. It was my great pleasure to attend a session at SAPPHIRE NOW that featured Joffey Mathews, a director from the North America Digital Business Services Center of Expertise (CoE) and analytics expert who applied his experience to the digital boardroom initiative at SAP.

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To kick off the discussion, Mathews outlined three challenges that executives face when making decisions:

  • A lack of real-time analytics during an executive and board meeting. Having this critical information is increasingly important as Big Data becomes the norm.
  • No agreement around key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics, and underlying data sources. The need for a single version of the truth has only grown with the explosion of Big Data and the rise of modern analytics.
  • Demand for information that is accurate, complete, and timely. Another requirement that’s remains unchanged over the years.

While these concerns are not surprising, they represent how a digital boardroom solution adds value to the decision-making process. According to Mathews, the SAP Digital Boardroom Solution aligns executive decisions with the source of truth across multiple areas. To achieve transparency, data-driven insights, and a simplified (yet dynamic) view of the company, the C-suite and the rest of the business need predictive analytics. Although designed for a boardroom environment, the solution is also portable from the top floor to the shop floor – another proof point of how the combination of the cloud and enterprise mobility are turning analytics and Big Data into killer apps.

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Likewise, sourcing data from anywhere in the business – which is clearly an advantage – needs to be supported, collected, and harmonized from on-premise and cloud-based applications. Quick response time is especially key for an executive audience, which is why SAP layered analytics on top of a cloud-based or on-premise version of the SAP HANA database or platform. In fact, I’ve learned this first-hand when I recently migrated some applications to SAP HANA, which was done in a matter of seconds instead of minutes. And because insights can be drawn from underlying data sources in real time, there’s no longer a need for pre-canned reports.

With a greater focus on getting the right data to support the right KPIs, Design Thinking plays a significant role in identifying scenarios and driving and guiding data selection and harmonization. This approach supports expansion and further customization. Plus, this application of simplified boardroom processes is based on a proven methodology of leveraging best practices, standardized processes, and predefined content as starting points.  The result is a quicker time to value and lower total cost of implementation – leading to an overall reduction in total cost of ownership.

By presenting three screens of information, SAP Digital Boardroom addresses business needs such as:

  • Real-time insights and guidance to support modern boardroom processes with a single version of the truth and to enable agility and flexibility
  • Real-time analytics based on the right KPIs driven by business scenarios, which are available on demand during boardroom and executive meetings to support enterprise-wide decisions
  • Fact-based decisions without wasting any time on discussing which version of the truth is represented because there’s only one

Looking back, I now see how my work with visionaries of enterprise information systems (EIS) and enterprise support systems is connected to where we are heading – the digital boardroom and the journey to digital transformation. Seeing all of this come to fruition in a way none of us could have imagined is truly exciting.

Fred is the senior director and head of Thought Leadership for Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP.

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