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Strategy+: 5 SAP solutions to consider in your S4 transformation business case

In this post, I am going to look at my top non-ERP SAP products to include in your S/4HANA transformation program. In one of my previous articles, I talked about the mistake that the leaders do in their ERP transformation projects. Specifically, I believe that companies can fail to establish a successful ERP transformation program by doing these three classic mistakes:

Digital transformation deals with every aspect of an organization. Creating a digital ecosystem impacts the daily business-as-usual operations, the innovation processes, the supporting technologies (including ERP and non-ERP), the workforce and the overall organization culture; however, I see many leaders kick-off the SAP S4 transformation strategy and roadmap exercise with a specific one technology in mind (i.e. looking at only S/4HANA system and neglecting the other IT applications in the environment).

S4 Transformation projects usually are about implementing S/4HANA ERP, plus implementing GRC 12.0 Access Controls with limited to no consideration over RPA, AI, ML and other SAP cloud solutions. Some companies might go above and beyond and implement SAP IBP or SAP Ariba, but the majority of implementations do not seize the opportunity to explore the potential of other SAP solutions.

Here are the different SAP solutions you must consider as part of your SAP S4 Business Transformation program. This listing goes beyond your S/4HANA ERP and SAP GRC Access Controls solution.

(1) SAP Cloud Platform (SCP)

  • Business Value (Very High): SAP Cloud Platform is an enterprise platform-as-a-service (enterprise PaaS). SAP Cloud Platform helps SAP customers solve their business problems by building and deploying cloud custom applications and workflows. With SAP Cloud Platform, it acts an integration and extension platform to adapt ABAP and non-ABAP application. It allows these custom applications to connect your landscape and create extensions that helps a specific  business needs.
  • Platform Maturity (Moderate): I believe that this platform with its pricing structure is an amazing complementary solution to your SAP ecosystem. Now, there are other cloud service providers who are much mature today, including AWS and Azure environments. That said, SCP is a great way to extend SAP-specific extension and seemly integrate the custom extensions you create with your current SAP ecosystem.
  • Overall Verdict (Highly Recommended): SCP is your first step to deploy and subscribe to the different SAP Cloud Solution services. It creates a tremendous value for your business and the cost of the platform will only be linked to your usage. I highly recommend introducing and exploring this solution in your S4 Business Transformation business case.

(2) SAP Intelligent Robotics Process Automation

  • Business Value (High): SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation is available via the SAP Cloud Platform. With SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation, you can automate your workflows and bring together data from different systems in real time. The power of SAP’S RPA solution is the pre-built bots and conversational AI solutions they integrate with the S/4HANA Cloud and On-prem solution.
  • Platform Maturity (Moderate): SAP purchased an RPA solution in late 2018, and since then SAP continued to develop the software. There are few areas that this solution needs to develop on, including better integration within the ML/AI capabilities and standard data wrangling & workflow activities. The goal of SAP is to help their customers with their S4 digital transformations by automatically replicating tedious action. This solution has the potential to bring SAP-specific automation solutions to your environment; although, you can still use it for virtually all your non-SAP applications.
  • Overall Verdict (Recommended): The pricing plan of this application is unmatched in the market today; it is priced by usage and not by the # of bots. I highly recommend introducing and exploring this solution in your S4 Business Transformation business case. It is a great and easier way to automate SAP-enabled processes that can be managed under your SAP administrators.

(3) SAP Analytics Cloud

  • Business Value (Very High): SAP Analytics Cloud is SAP’s answer to enabling data visualization and improved business intelligence. SAP provides predefined reporting embedded and/or integrated with your core SAP ERP solutions, including S/4HANA Cloud and On-prem solutions. Usually, companies start with the Planning & Budgeting module, then explore other areas across other business process cycles.
  • Platform Maturity (High): This is one of the early and first SAP Cloud solutions. It offers great pre-built visualization and dashboard capabilities. The integration capabilities it holds with SAP solutions is incomparable. Additionally, SAP is heavily focused on creating more pre-built and best practices dashboards that allows for greater insights across your SAP environment. If you are an SAP customer with multiple SAP platforms, then this is a great tool to create a single view of your business operations.
  • Overall Verdict (Highly Recommended): Like the other SAP Cloud Solutions, this product is available on a subscription basis. SAP Analytics Cloud offers several flexible licensing options to meet your company’s needs. If you want to do budgeting in SAP, then this is your solution. Additionally, this is a great SaaS platform that will allow you and your departments develop insights that was exceedingly difficult to create before in an SAP environment.

(4) SAP Datawarehouse Cloud

  • Business Value (High): SAP’s data warehouse-as-a-service offering is designed for both business and IT. It is alternative cloud solution to your BW/4HANA. This end-to-end SaaS solution offers instant value with pre-built business content and out-of-the-box advanced analytics.
  • Platform Maturity (Low-Moderate): This might be one of the newest additions, if not the newest, for SAP Cloud Solutions. SAP Data Warehouse Cloud was set for general release in Q4 2019. Since the product is relatively new, I personally believe that the product will evolve greatly in the next 12 months. However, I still believe that many companies should put this product on its roadmap.
  • Overall Verdict (Recommended): Even though I see the business value and product maturity as low or moderate, this product has an extremely high potential in my opinion. As the product mature more, I see that this cloud solution will absorb other analytics, ML and AI SAP capabilities, creating a powerful smart and unique capabilities for your business.

(5) SAP Data Intelligence

  • Business Value (High): SAP Data Intelligence is SAP solution to execute advanced data extraction, orchestration, and analysis on Big Data. This product helps to scale AI and ML capabilities through built-in tools for data governance, management, and transparency.
  • Platform Maturity (High): SAP Data Intelligence is a platform built by combining different capabilities and SAP solutions. I have worked with this platform when it was called SAP Data Hub. Even though the product name is new, its underlying components has been around for few years now (e.g. SAP Data Hub and SAP Leonardo). In early 2020, SAP released version 3.0 of this solution.
  • Overall Verdict (Highly Recommended): SAP Data Intelligence provides the integration, orchestration, metadata governance, connectivity, and rich services of SAP Data Hub with the services of SAP Leonardo Machine Learning in the cloud. It is a great solution for your data scientists and business users to create complex models and unique business solutions.

Bringing it all together,

Digital transformation and S/4HANA programs are sold to be more than an infrastructure or a technology upgrade. However, many companies and their system integrators focus on a single ERP (S/4HANA) technology and fail to consider non-ERP solutions throughout their transformation journey.

Business operations need to be disrupted & challenged to be radically improved in today competitive market. You need to upgrade your core ERP solution as a first step, but this step cannot be what you only take to digitally transform your business.

Clearly identify your business problems and creating a solution optimized with futuristic technology is key to a better transformation. The above SAP products are merely my list of products that I personally saw, and I highly recommend exploring them for your SAP business environment.

If you are an SAP customer, it is imperative to consider and analyze the entire suite of SAP solutions that should supplement your future S4 technology operating model.

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The views, information or opinions expressed in this short article are the views of my own. All information in this article is provided “as is”, with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy, timeliness or of the results obtained from the use of this information.

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