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Author's profile photo Justin Borders

Hands-Free SMB ERP: Push to Start

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Intelligent Enterprise for SAP Business ByDesign

Automation. It sounds cool but what does it really mean? Can my small to medium sized business really benefit from it? Why would I ever let a machine do what I can do myself? Before we answer those questions, let’s take a look at automation from a different perspective. The automobile. Nowadays, we don’t think twice about getting into our cars, starting the engine with the press of a button, and driving across the country (or if you’re lucky enough your car will drive itself across the country). But to really appreciate the automated aspects of a vehicle, we need to take a look back at its history.

The idea of automating monotonous tasks has shaped the evolution of the car since its inception and it does the same for business as well. Starting a car wasn’t always as easy as pushing a button. From the cranking wheel, to the cranking handle, to the electric starter, to the ignition switch (keys), to the now widely used push to start, engineers have always taken steps so that today’s driver has the most autonomous driving experience possible. Just push and go.

Even the way that cars are made has been automated. Henry Ford’s implementation of the assembly line made it so that everyday people could afford a car. What was the result of the automation of this process? Lower Input, lower costs, and more time. As someone involved in a small to medium size business, you know that your time is valuable and limited. If you could spend less time doing the mundane, processing invoices, scanning documents, and answering simple questions, would you do it?

Intelligent Enterprise for SMB

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Simona Marincei, the Head of Intelligent Processes – VP, Product Management SME to discuss why Intelligent Enterprise matters for small to medium size businesses and what’s coming up in the world of automation for SAP. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing some of the insights she gave me throughout our conversations in a 4-part series. Today we’ll just be going over the basics.

Intelligent Automation: The Hands-Free ERP

You might be asking, what exactly is a Hands-Free ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)? Well according to Simona, it’s composed of 3 major pillars. The first stream of the Business Process Automation we consider is Intelligent Business Document Processing. In regard to this Simona said, “Every single document that’s coming to you via email such as invoices, purchase orders, travel expenses, or proof of deliveries. Many of these still come as pdf or picture attachments. Currently, the user has to open it, open ByDesign, and start to type it. Each document taking 10 to 15 minutes. What if you had an AI service or robot that takes it directly from your email, scans it and puts it in your system while making a draft or copy of it.

“What if you had an AI service or robot that takes it directly from your email, scans it and puts it in your system while making a draft or copy of it?”

In short, this will save you a lot of time so you can spend more time doing the things that are critical to your business, like interacting with customers.

Decision Assistance/ Making

Decision Assistance/ Making involves AI based decision making of approving or rejecting various business scenarios based on predictive analysis. This allows you to automate workflows such as monthly purchase orders, payments, or even employee vacations when the confidence level is higher than what you defined as a user. What does that mean for you? Less time submitting and reviewing the same exact purchase order you make every month and more time to focus on the creative challenges your business faces.

Next Generation User Experience

During my chat with Simona, she spoke about the two different types of people when it comes to AI technology. On one hand you have those who think AI will destroy us all, initiate the matrix, or turn us into Will Smith in iRobot. On the other hand, you have those who think AI can do everything imaginable like cook dinner, clean the house, and run an entire business while you vacation in the Bahamas. In reality, it’s something much more down to earth.

The Next-Gen UI will introduce the mixture of frequently asked questions, intelligent search, and chatbots utilizing conversational AI. This gives you a one stop solution for all organizational questions.

“You have this problem that you need to exactly search for a particular word. What if you were allowed to ask the same questions you would ask a colleague? For Example, how do I create an invoice?”

They might not help make your morning coffee, but AI chatbots can help improve your organizational efficiency. I mean, how many times can someone be asked how to create an invoice before they lose their mind?


You might be asking, when will all these features be coming out? Some of these features are already available for ByDesign customers, as for the others, take a look at the image below. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

What’s Next?

Just like the automobile, business is evolving over time. To compete in today’s market with the giants, SMBs need a way to automate the mundane tasks of everyday business. Focus on what’s important, your customers, your employees, and the creative direction you want your business to follow. SMBs need a “push to start” approach to doing business and spend less time “cranking the wheel”.

Over the next week I’ll be going into greater details on these new features including the roadmap, real benefits for SMB customers, and how partners can get involved. I hope within this series of blog posts I can take complex solutions and make them more digestible. Let me know what your thoughts are down below! Do AI Chatbots really signal the end?

We are building a great community where those involved with SMBs can ask questions, find answers, and share their thoughts and ideas! Join the community today! Make sure to check it out and follow the page here.

Questions related to small to medium size businesses? Don’t hesitate to ask anything (Directly related to SAP or not) here.

Update: Check out the following blog post in this series here!

Intelligent Business Document Processing 

Decision Assistance/ Making

Next Generation User Experience 

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      Author's profile photo Simona Marincei
      Simona Marincei

      Thank you Justin for such a pleasant interview, I particularly like you entertaining style of writing and down to Earth example on how intelligent technologies are helping the small and medium business which are clearly showing that Intelligent Enterprise in not only a buzz word: Intelligent Automation and AI for a hands free Business Document Processing ERP, Predictive Analytics for Decision Assistance and Decision Making and chat bots and intelligent search for a next generation UX are all short-medium terms achievable goals which we already started to deliver to our customers and partners. And we will not stop here.

      Author's profile photo Aleksandar Filipovic
      Aleksandar Filipovic

      This is my favourite article in your series, at least of the ones I read so far, but I am not sure how you could write a better one 😀 I read it for the second time today, I liked it so much. The analogy with a car is genius! By the way, I am in the group that believes AI will eventually cook for us and be able to do everything humans can, only much better. Probably, it will even be capable of greater empathy. My outlook for AI is very positive 🙂