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Author's profile photo Jan Schaffner

SAP’s Integration Strategy – Progress on the Key Pillar to Steer Businesses Through Times of Crisis and Beyond

In a Community Call as part of SAPPHIRE NOW Converge I shared SAP’s progress on the Integration Strategy outlined in CEO Christian Klein’s Integration paper. To follow up on the call, I’d like to share here some of the main progress we have made, and talk a bit more about SAP Cloud Platform Master Data Integration and SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite as many questions were asked about these during the Q&A.

SAP’s Integration Strategy – Key Pillar to Steer Businesses Through Times of Crisis and Beyond

One of the central statements from this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW Converge keynotes was that ‘digital transformation is no longer an option, but a must’ – and this holds equally true for integration.

In times of the current COVID-19 crisis, businesses need to react fast to changing market demands and make informed decisions based on real-time data. But for many, a fragmented IT environment and increasing data complexity can pose an issue.
To turn data into meaningful insight, enterprises need to integrate all their functions and processes, get the complete picture in real time, and make decisions with knowledge of all interdependencies within the organization. Here is how SAP’s two-pronged integration strategy can help.

86% of companies say there is much more they can do with their data, while 74% say their data landscape is so complex that it limits agility.

Simplified SAP-to-SAP Application Integration

With the acquisition of SAP’s Cloud Line of Business solutions (like e.g. SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, and the CX solution portfolio) over the recent years, the complexity and integration effort to run business processes end-to-end has increased. To address this, we already shared earlier this year our SAP Integration Roadmap in the Cloud. It is currently one of the top priorities across SAP to deliver on this clear action plan for SAP-to-SAP integrations for the Intelligent Suite. Our scope goes far beyond purely technical, point-to-point integrations. It is about a true end-to-end business integration in the context of such mega-processes like Recruit to Retire, Lead to Cash, Design to Operate, and Source to Pay. SAP’s integration notion comprises several Suite Qualities that contribute to a simplified integration experience and which deliver most and immediate value to our customers:

  • Aligned Domain Models: helps to simplify the sharing and distribution of master data across the Intelligent Suite by harmonizing data models with common semantics. The goal is to reduce today’s replication and synchronization efforts for key master data objects, like g., employees, customers, orders, and move to data sharing via a central master data service that is based on aligned domain models.
  • Seamless user experience: comprises, for example, harmonized UIs across SAP’s cloud applications, based on Fiori design guidelines.
  • Embedded Intelligence & Analytics: helps to achieve higher business outcomes via embedded machine learning in SAP applications and improves decision making via cross-application insights enabled by SAP Analytics Cloud.
  • One Inbox: a seamless and integrated user experience for customers who want a unified view of approvals across multiple applications for a smooth approvals process.
  • Consistent Security & Identity Management: provides uniform mechanisms to handle authentication, identity provisioning, and role provisioning.
  • End-to-End Business Blueprints: SAP shares a reference architecture of which solutions are required to become an Intelligent Enterprise and the target state of enterprise architecture. Based on this information customers can map out their roadmap to adopt the solution and transition from the current solution landscape to their target.
  • Coordinated Lifecycle Management: simplifies the provisioning, configuration and monitoring steps for IT operators.

Recent deliveries along these Suite Qualities include among other things: the publication of E2E business process blueprints on SAP API Business Hub, a seamless and harmonized user experience for the Lead to Cash, Source to Pay, and Design to Operate processes, the shipment of first aligned data models for the domains ‘Cost Center’ and ‘Workforce Person’ that are now integrated across SAP SuccessFactors and SAP S/4HANA applications. Moreover, SAP Analytics Cloud is already embedded in the SAP S/4HANA and SAP SuccessFactors applications. To further accelerate our integration work, frontrunner projects are currently underway for One Inbox, Cross-Product Analytics, and Integration Monitoring.

In 2020 we have laid the groundwork for a true end-to-end business integration and by the end of this year we expect to deliver 90% of these cloud integration Suite Qualities to our customers – see our roadmaps for more information.

Distributing and sharing master data in the Integrated Intelligent Suite

With the harmonized and aligned domain models provided by the SAP One Domain Model it becomes easier to let business applications understand each other’s business objects. The SAP Cloud Platform Master Data Integration service allows all suite applications to share their business objects and to distribute changes within the suite.

This means that the applications of the integrated intelligent suite still use their individual representation of their business objects but can rely on an aligned and unified representation when exchanging and synchronizing their master data.

With this aligned approach it is also easier to apply analytics on top of the Intelligent Suite. Master Data is already available with a common data model and the need to transform and map data fields is reduced.

Some of you might ask yourselves now how SAP Master Data Governance and SAP Cloud Platform Master Data Integration are related.

While SAP Master Data Governance is used to consolidate, govern and ensure proper master data quality management features, the SAP Cloud Platform Master Data Integration is a complementary cloud solution that provides you on top with harmonized data consumption based on an aligned data model for the intelligent suite. The solutions can be used together or independently of each other and already existing MDG distribution scenarios can be kept in place.

Open Integration with SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite

Besides current efforts to simplify cloud-to-cloud integrations, SAP already today supports hybrid cloud to on-premise integration options. SAP’s Cloud Platform Integration Suite  gives customers the full flexibility to adopt the integration strategy that best fits their landscape (including cloud-to-cloud and hybrid integration options). More than 1500+ pre-packaged integration templates (including integrations between SAP S/4HANA and SAP Cloud products) are published on the SAP API Business Hub and can be used to jump-start integration projects with the help of the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite tooling.

SAP’s Cloud Platform Integration Suite also offers the ability to integrate with third-party applications, for instance by making use of the pre-packaged integration templates for integrations into non-SAP solutions and by providing more than 160 open connectors to connect to non-SAP applications via the SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite tooling.

Let me highlight some of the services that belong to SAP Cloud Platform Integration Suite:

  • SAP Cloud Platform Integration for hybrid integrations of cloud and on-premise applications
  • SAP Cloud Platform Integration Advisor for accelerated governance of message implementation and mapping guidelines, leveraging machine learning and crowd-sourcing mechanisms
  • SAP Cloud Platform API Management to govern and manage APIs and their lifecycle end to end
  • SAP Cloud Platform Open Connectors for accelerated connectivity to non-SAP applications
  • SAP Cloud Platform Enterprise Messaging to support event-driven integrations with messaging and functions
  • SAP API Business Hub to search, discover experience, and consume APIs, prepackaged integration content, and adapters from SAP and select partners

Want to learn more about how to manage integrations in hybrid IT landscapes? Check out SAP’s CIO Guide for Process and Data Integration in Hybrid Landscapes and the SAP Integration Solution Advisory Methodology (ISA-M).

The Road Ahead

Thousands of customers trust SAP to run their most critical end-to-end business processes day by day. SAP has always been the leader for data and processes and integration is the DNA of our Intelligent Suite. In the second half of 2020 we will continue to deliver on our integration roadmap towards a harmonized and simplified suite that will,

  • considerably ease the integration effort for SAP customers, through aligned APIs and a common domain model, aligned release cycles of cloud applications and automated provisioning
  • provide a common data foundation to apply intelligence on top, like with SAP Analytics cloud already embedded in the end-to-end process
  • and serve as the basis for custom extension use cases, e.g. via SAP Cloud Platform, SAP Cloud Extension Factory and the Extension framework for Machine Learning

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